Physicians' responses to computerized drug-drug interaction alerts for outpatients

Min Li Yeh, Ying Jui Chang, Po Yen Wang, Yu Chuan Li, Chien-Yeh Hsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Adverse drug reactions (ADR) increase morbidity and mortality; potential drug-drug interactions (DDI) increase the probability of ADR. Studies have proven that computerized drug-interaction alert systems (DIAS) might reduce medication errors and potential adverse events. However, the relatively high override rates obscure the benefits of alert systems, which result in barriers for availability. It is important to understand the frequency at which physicians override DIAS and the reasons for overriding reminders. Method: All the DDI records of outpatient prescriptions from a tertiary university hospital from 2005 and 2006 detections by the DIAS are included in the study. The DIAS is a JAVA language software that was integrated into the computerized physician order entry system. The alert window is displayed when DDIs occur during order entries, and physicians choose the appropriate action according to the DDI alerts. There are seven response choices are obligated in representing overriding and acceptance: (1) necessary order and override; (2) expected DDI and override; (3) expected DDI with modified dosage and override; (4) no DDI and override; (5) too busy to respond and override; (6) unaware of the DDI and accept; and (7) unexpected DDI and accept. The responses were collected for analysis. Results: A total of 11,084 DDI alerts of 1,243,464 outpatient prescriptions were present, 0.89% of all computerized prescriptions. The overall rate for accepting was 8.5%, but most of the alerts were overridden (91.5%). Physicians of family medicine and gynecology-obstetrics were more willing to accept the alerts with acceptance rates of 20.8% and 20.0% respectively (p< 0.001). Information regarding the recognition of DDIs indicated that 82.0% of the DDIs were aware by physicians, 15.9% of DDIs were unaware by physicians, and 2.1% of alerts were ignored. The percentage of total alerts declined from 1.12% to 0.79% during 24 months' study period, and total overridden alerts also declined (from 1.04% to 0.73%). Conclusion: We explored the physicians' behavior by analyzing responses to the DDI alerts. Although the override rate is still high, the reasons why physicians may override DDI alerts were well analyzed and most DDI were recognized by physicians. Nonetheless, the trend of total overrides is in decline, which indicates a learning curve effect from exposure to DIAS. By analyzing the computerized responses provided by physicians, efforts should be made to improve the efficiency of the DIAS, and pharmacists, as well as patient safety staffs, can catch physicians' appropriate reasons for overriding DDI alerts, improving patient safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-25
Number of pages9
JournalComputer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • Alert system
  • Drug-drug interactions
  • Override
  • Patient safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications


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