Doctors miss electronic lab alerts, study says
NEW YORK — Lab results sent directly to doctors' computer screens sometimes get lost in a flood of other alerts, according to a new study.
Researchers, who surveyed more than 2,500 doctors at veterans hospitals, found that doctors received several dozen electronic alerts every day, and nearly a third said they've missed lab results and that ended up delaying their patients' care.
“You can easily miss one or two, because the signal gets buried,” said Dr. Hardeep Singh, the study's lead author from the Houston VA Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence.
For the new study, Singh and his colleagues used surveys sent to about 5,000 doctors who used electronic health records, or EHRs, within the Department of Veterans Affairs, from June through November 2010.
Of the 2,590 who responded, the researchers found the doctors received an average of about 63 alerts through the EHR system every day. Those alerts include results from blood tests and radiology exams.
Almost 90 percent thought the number of alerts they got was excessive, and about 70 percent said they get more alerts than they can “effectively manage.”
More than half of the doctors said it was possible to miss results using the EHR system, and about 30 percent said they had missed lab results that led to their patients' care being delayed.
The findings show that doctors who use EHR systems are vulnerable to information overload, the researchers write in JAMA Internal Medicine. But, they caution, they cannot prove that using the electronic records is what caused the doctors to miss lab results.
“This is true for both paper-based settings … and electronic health record systems. In fact, I think the electronic health record systems make it better, but I think we've realized there are challenges along the way,” Singh said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- N.H. kidnapping suspect held on $1M bail
- Girl struck by plane on beach succumbs
- Highway funding overhaul sought
- Harshest sanctions yet target Russian finances, arms
- Obama’s many rules often violate statute
- Lone clinic in Miss. for abortions still stands
- Appeals court upholds nation of origin labels for meat
- UCLA inundated by burst pipe
- Surgeon general echoes warnings about skin cancer
- Chemical plan inspection program ‘broken’
- Boy’s body discovered on Air Force cargo jet that was on mission in Africa