Potential identifiability and preventability of adverse events using information systems

J Am Med Inform Assoc. Sep-Oct 1994;1(5):404-11. doi: 10.1136/jamia.1994.95153428.


Study objective: To evaluate the potential ability of computerized information systems (ISs) to identify and prevent adverse events in medical patients.

Design: Clinical descriptions of all 133 adverse events identified through chart review for a cohort of 3,138 medical patients were evaluated by two reviewers.

Measurements: For each adverse event, three hierarchical levels of IS sophistication were considered: Level 1--demographics, results for all diagnostic tests, and current medications would be available on-line; Level 2--all orders would be entered on-line by physicians; and Level 3--additional clinical data, such as automated problem lists, would be available on-line. Potential for event identification and potential for event prevention were scored by each reviewer according to two distinct sets of event monitors.

Results: Of all the adverse events, 53% were judged identifiable using Level 1 information, 58% were judged identifiable using Level 2 information, and 89% were judged identifiable using Level 3 information. The highest-yield event monitors for identifying adverse events were "panic" laboratory results, unexpected transfer to an intensive care unit, and hospital-incurred trauma. With information from Levels 1, 2, and 3, 5%, 13%, and 23% of the adverse events, respectively, were judged preventable. For preventing these adverse events, guided-dose algorithms, drug-laboratory checks, and drug-patient characteristic checks held the most potential.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making, Computer-Assisted*
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
  • Humans
  • Iatrogenic Disease / prevention & control*
  • Information Systems / standards*
  • Injury Severity Score
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Management / methods*
  • Wounds and Injuries / classification
  • Wounds and Injuries / prevention & control*