Booster Shots

Oddities, musings and news from the health world

« Previous Post | Booster Shots Home | Next Post »

Those drug-interaction warnings sure are irritating

February 10, 2009 | 10:30 am


One can imagine how electronic drug-prescribing systems could be annoying to doctors -- all those warnings about potential interactions and allergies and whatnot when all you really want to do is give a patient a drug he or she needs and be done with it. It's probably easier to just ignore the blasted alerts and keep going.

That seems to be what's happening. In a study published in the Feb. 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, most doctors simply shrugged off the warnings issued by their helpful electronic systems.

Out of almost a quarter-million medication safety alerts produced during the study period, the doctors involved accepted only 9.2% of the interaction warnings and 23% of the allergy warnings. In other words, they ignored more than 90% of the drug interaction alerts and more than 75% of the allergy alerts.

The researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center who conducted the study have posted a list of potentially severe medication interactions -- and the acceptance rates of those alerts.

Obviously, if patients are counting on electronic prescribing systems to completely protect them from dangerous drug interactions and allergies in this bold new world of sophisticated record-keeping and safeguards, they may want to reconsider.

As the study's conclusion dryly notes: "Clinicians override most medication alerts, suggesting that current medication safety alerts may be inadequate to protect patient safety."

-- Tami Dennis

Photo credit: Associated Press