Bob Wachter, MD, Professor and Interim Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
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Learning Objectives: At the end of this activity, you will be able to:
Explain the concept of alert fatigue in health care.
Discuss how alert fatigue can have a negative effect on patient safety.
Recognize that an unnecessary alert can be dangerous in health care.
Description: In a given month, physicians at UCSF Medical Center get 30,000 alerts from different systems. And that’s nothing compared to pharmacists: They get 160,000. “And those are just the computerized pop-up boxes,” says Bob Wachter, Professor at UCSF and one of the world’s leading experts on patient safety.
In a new Open School video, Wachter shares memorable vignettes about alert fatigue, his take on the noisy systems we’ve created, and some potential solutions to the problem.
- Why can ignoring alerts have a negative effect on patient safety?
- At the end of the video, Dr. Wachter says, “We touted alerts and alarms as being one of the main advantages of computerization. And I think right now, it’s a disaster.” Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
- Have you or someone you’ve worked with ever ignored an alert? Why did you (or they) ignore the alert?
- Dr. Wachter shares a potential solution to the problem — reviewing every alert to see if it’s valuable. Do you think that could ever happen at your institution? Why or why not?
- Have you ever been a patient in a setting where alerts and alarms were going off all the time? How did they make you feel?