Types of unintended consequences related to computerized provider order entry

J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2006 Sep-Oct;13(5):547-56. doi: 10.1197/jamia.M2042. Epub 2006 Jun 23.


Objective: To identify types of clinical unintended adverse consequences resulting from computerized provider order entry (CPOE) implementation.

Design: An expert panel provided initial examples of adverse unintended consequences of CPOE. The authors, using qualitative methods, gathered and analyzed additional examples from five successful CPOE sites.

Methods: Using a card sort method, the authors developed a categorization scheme for the 79 unintended consequences initially identified and then iteratively modified the scheme to categorize 245 additional adverse consequences resulting from fieldwork. Because the focus centered on consequences requiring prevention or remedial action, the authors did not further analyze reported unintended beneficial (positive) consequences.

Results: Unintended adverse consequences (UACs) fell into nine major categories (in order of decreasing frequency): 1) more/new work for clinicians; 2) unfavorable workflow issues; 3) never ending system demands; 4) problems related to paper persistence; 5) untoward changes in communication patterns and practices; 6) negative emotions; 7) generation of new kinds of errors; 8) unexpected changes in the power structure; and 9) overdependence on the technology. Clinical decision support features introduced many of these unintended consequences.

Conclusion: Identifying and understanding the types and in some instances the causes of unintended adverse consequences associated with CPOE will enable system developers and implementers to better manage implementation and maintenance of future CPOE projects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors
  • Medical Order Entry Systems*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Organizational Innovation*
  • Workload