Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

Reducing prescribing errors through creatinine clearance alert redesign.

Melton BL, Zillich AJ, Russell SA, Weiner M, McManus MS, Spina JR, Russ AL. Reducing prescribing errors through creatinine clearance alert redesign. The American journal of medicine. 2015 Oct 1; 128(10):1117-25.

Dimensions for VA is a web-based tool available to VA staff that enables detailed searches of published research and research projects.

If you have VA-Intranet access, click here for more information

VA staff not currently on the VA network can access Dimensions by registering for an account using their VA email address.
   Search Dimensions for VA for this citation
* Don't have VA-internal network access or a VA email address? Try searching the free-to-the-public version of Dimensions


BACKGROUND: Literature has shown that computerized creatinine clearance alerts reduce errors during prescribing, and applying human factors principles may further reduce errors. Our objective was to apply human factors principles to creatinine clearance alert design and assess whether the redesigned alerts increase usability and reduce prescribing errors compared with the original alerts. METHODS: Twenty Veterans Affairs (VA) outpatient providers (14 physicians, 2 nurse practitioners, and 4 clinical pharmacists) completed 2 usability sessions in a counterbalanced study to evaluate original and redesigned alerts. Each session consisted of fictional patient scenarios with 3 medications that warranted prescribing changes because of renal impairment, each associated with creatinine clearance alerts. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected to assess alert usability and the occurrence of prescribing errors. RESULTS: There were 43% fewer prescribing errors with the redesigned alerts compared with the original alerts (P = .001). Compared with the original alerts, redesigned alerts significantly reduced prescribing errors for allopurinol and ibuprofen (85% vs 40% and 65% vs 25%, P = .012 and P = .008, respectively), but not for spironolactone (85% vs 65%). Nine providers (45%) voiced confusion about why the alert was appearing when they encountered the original alert design. When laboratory links were presented on the redesigned alert, laboratory information was accessed 3.5 times more frequently. CONCLUSIONS: Although prescribing errors were high with both alert designs, the redesigned alerts significantly improved prescribing outcomes. This investigation provides some of the first evidence on how alerts may be designed to support safer prescribing for patients with renal impairment.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.