Investigating the impact of intensive care unit interruptions on patient safety events and electronic health records use: An observational study

Saif Khairat, Stevan Whitt, Catherine K. Craven, Youngju Pak, Chi Ren Shyu, Yang Gong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Constant interruptions and continual data flow result in information overload for clinicians and become barriers to identification and extraction of relevant patient data and its correct interpretation. The aim of the study was to describe the types, frequencies, and impact of intensive care unit (ICU) interruptions on patient safety event occurrences and electronic health records (EHR) use. Methods: We conducted a live observational study for 6 weeks, observing critical care physicians' and other providers' communication while recording interruptions, patient safety events, and EHR use. Results: Across 55 hours, the researchers observed 7515 ICU tasks, 15.7% of which were interrupted. We found that technological interruptions directly influences the occurrence of patient safety events: An increase in technological interruptions directly contributes to patient safety event occurrence (P = 0.004). Technological interruptions had a direct effect on human interruptions, as the frequency of technological interruptions increase, human interruptions also increase (P = 0.02). Conclusions: A prospective, observational study was conducted to understand the relationship between interruptions and patient safety events and EHR use, in a time-sensitive, activity-based study in a large academic medical center with a certified EHR system. We found that technological interruptionswere statistically correlated to the occurrence of patient safety events, and human interruptions significantly affected the level of EHR use. This study recommends that ICUs adopt a safety culture that promotes minimizing unnecessary interruptions, such as side conversations during rounds, for improved quality of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E321-E326
JournalJournal of Patient Safety
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • EHR
  • ICU
  • Interruptions
  • Patient safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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