Exposure to automated drug alerts over time: effects on clinicians' knowledge and perceptions

Med Care. 2006 Mar;44(3):250-6. doi: 10.1097/01.mlr.0000199849.08389.91.


Objective: We tested whether interval exposure to an automated drug alert system that included approximately 2000 drug-drug interaction alerts increased recognition of selected interacting drug pairs. We also examined other perceptions about computerized order entry.

Research design: We administered cross-sectional surveys in 2000 and 2002 that included more than 260 eligible clinicians in each time period.

Subjects: We studied clinicians practicing in ambulatory settings within a Southern California Veterans Affairs Healthcare System and who responded to both surveys (97 respondents).

Measures: We sought to measure (1) recognition of selected drug-drug and drug-condition interactions and (2) other benefits and barriers to using automated drug alerts.

Results: Clinicians correctly categorized similar percentages of the 7 interacting drug-drug pairs at baseline and follow-up (53% vs. 54%, P = 0.51) but improved their overall recognition of the 3 contraindicated drug-drug pairs (51% vs. 60%, P = 0.01). No significant changes from baseline to follow-up were found for the 8 interacting drug-condition pairs (60% vs. 62%, P = 0.43) or the 4 contraindicated drug-condition pairs (52% vs. 56%, P = 0.24). More providers preferred using order entry at follow-up than baseline (63% vs. 45%, P < 0.001). Signal-to-noise ratio remained the biggest reported problem at follow-up and baseline (54 vs. 57%, P = 0.75). In 2002, clinicians reported seeing a median of 5 drug alerts per week (representing approximately 12.5% of prescriptions entered), with a median 5% reportedly leading to an action.

Conclusions: Interval exposure to automated drug alerts had little to no effect on recognition of selected drug-drug interactions. The primary perceived barrier to effective utilization of drug alerts remained the same over time.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Automation*
  • California
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized
  • Medication Errors / prevention & control
  • Middle Aged
  • Safety Management