Implementing a commercial rule base as a medication order safety net

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Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association


A commercial rule base (Cerner Multum) was used to identify medication orders exceeding recommended dosage limits at five hospitals within BJC HealthCare, an integrated health care system. During initial testing, clinical pharmacists determined that there was an excessive number of nuisance and clinically insignificant alerts, with an overall alert rate of 9.2%. A method for customizing the commercial rule base was implemented to increase rule specificity for problematic rules. The system was subsequently deployed at two facilities and achieved alert rates of less than 1%. Pharmacists screened these alerts and contacted ordering physicians in 21% of cases. Physicians made therapeutic changes in response to 38% of alerts presented to them. By applying simple techniques to customize rules, commercial rule bases can be used to rapidly deploy a safety net to screen drug orders for excessive dosages, while preserving the rule architecture for later implementations of more finely tuned clinical decision support.

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