BACKGROUND: The clinical decision support system (CDSS) has become an indispensable tool for reducing medication errors and adverse drug events. However, numerous studies have reported that CDSS alerts are often overridden. The increase in override rates has raised questions about the appropriateness of CDSS application along with concerns about patient safety and quality of care.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to conduct a systematic review to examine the override rate, the reasons for the alert override at the time of prescribing, and evaluate the appropriateness of overrides.
METHODS: We searched electronic databases, including Google Scholar, PubMed, Embase, Scopus, and Web of Science, without language restrictions between January 1, 2000 and March 31, 2019. Two authors independently extracted data and crosschecked the extraction to avoid errors. The quality of the included studies was examined following Cochrane guidelines.
RESULTS: We included 23 articles in our systematic review. The range of average override alerts was 46.2%-96.2%. An average of 29.4%-100% of the overrides alerts were classified as appropriate, and the rate of appropriateness varied according to the alert type (drug-allergy interaction 63.4%-100%, drug-drug interaction 0%-95%, dose 43.9%-88.8%, geriatric 14.3%-57%, renal 27%-87.5%). The interrater reliability for the assessment of override alerts appropriateness was excellent (kappa=0.79-0.97). The most common reasons given for the override were "will monitor" and "patients have tolerated before."
CONCLUSIONS: The findings of our study show that alert override rates are high, and certain categories of overrides such as drug-drug interaction, renal, and geriatric were classified as inappropriate. Nevertheless, large proportions of drug duplication, drug-allergy, and formulary alerts were appropriate, suggesting that these groups of alerts can be primary targets to revise and update the system for reducing alert fatigue. Future efforts should also focus on optimizing alert types, providing clear information, and explaining the rationale of the alert so that essential alerts are not inappropriately overridden.