Drug Alert Experience and Salience during Medical Residency at Two Healthcare Institutions

Kinjal Gadhiya, Edgar Zamora, Salim M. Saiyed, David Friedlander, David C. Kaelber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Drug alerts are clinical decision support tools intended to prevent medication misadministration. In teaching hospitals, residents encounter the majority of the drug alerts while learning under variable workloads and responsibilities that may have an impact on drug-alert response rates. Objectives This study was aimed to explore drug-alert experience and salience among postgraduate year 1 (PGY-1), postgraduate year 2 (PGY-2), and postgraduate year 3 (PGY-3) internal medicine resident physicians at two different institutions. Methods Drug-alert information was queried from the electronic health record (EHR) for 47 internal medicine residents at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center (UPMC) Pinnacle in Pennsylvania, and 79 internal medicine residents at the MetroHealth System (MHS) in Ohio from December 2018 through February 2019. Salience was defined as the percentage of drug alerts resulting in removal or modification of the triggering order. Comparisons were made across institutions, residency training year, and alert burden. Results A total of 126 residents were exposed to 52,624 alerts over a 3-month period. UPMC Pinnacle had 15,574 alerts with 47 residents and MHS had 37,050 alerts with 79 residents. At MHS, salience was 8.6% which was lower than UPMC Pinnacle with 15%. The relatively lower salience (42% lower) at MHS corresponded to a greater number of alerts-per-resident (41% higher) compared with UPMC Pinnacle. Overall, salience was 11.6% for PGY-1, 10.5% for PGY-2, and 8.9% for PGY-3 residents. Conclusion Our results are suggestive of long-term drug-alert desensitization during progressive residency training. A higher number of alerts-per-resident correlating with a lower salience suggests alert fatigue; however, other factors should also be considered including differences in workload and culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-361
Number of pages7
JournalApplied clinical informatics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • clinical decision support system
  • desensitization
  • drug alerts
  • drug fatigue
  • salience rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Information Management


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