Many computer systems and medical devices have safety features that prevent a user from proceeding when it may be dangerous to do so or when a pre-set limit is reached. These features are great tools for preventing errors, since they prohibit the user from proceeding beyond the limit. However, sometimes the need to over-ride the feature is warranted, such as in an emergency or for a unique situation. It is important to provide over-ride options in these cases, so that the safety feature does not cause harm to the patient by preventing care from being rendered. However, the number of over-rides should be limited to only a few situations, otherwise the safety feature becomes ineffective, and staff may become complacent and select over-rides without reading the alert information.
- Record all over-rides and review the information collected. If too many over-rides are being selected, the limits may be set too tightly.
- Monitor for trends in over-ride by individual, not for punitive reasons, but to identify the possible need for education or retraining.
- Carefully screen all requests to set additional over-ride options on safety features, remembering that the goal is to have as few over-rides as possible.
- As an extra safety check, require that two people approve the over-ride in some situations.
- Ensure that over-rides can be accomplished easily with only minimum steps if they are necessary in life-threatening emergencies.