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Blissfully Unalerted

A few years ago, my hospital updated our computer charting/order entry system.  When a doc orders a med, the system is set up to make the order expire in a set period of time (2 weeks, for example).  During training, we were taught that when it was getting close to the time of expiration, an alert would be sent to nursing and to the doctor who ordered the medication so he/she could renew it if they wanted.

I never agreed with sending the alert to nursing.  I’ve always thought it should just go to the doc that ordered the drug.  Why create a middle man?  Anyway, I almost always ignore these alerts since I know the docs see it too.  They’re really annoying because they pop up randomly even if you are in the middle of something and you have to acknowledge it before you can continue with your task.

We are now upgrading our system and I recently had to go through another training session.  The instructor told us that this new upgrade still has the feature as described above, except for one thing – doctors would no longer receive the alert.  The medication expiration alert ONLY goes to the nurse.

Me:  “Why won’t the doctors be receiving the alerts anymore?”

Instructor: “I don’t know.  Maybe they complained about it enough to have it removed.”

Me (smiling):  “So if we nurses complain about it enough, we might be able to get rid of it too?”

Instructor:  “No no no… no one listens to nurses.”

I would have dismissed it as an offhand comment if it hadn’t been delivered with an utterly absolute lack of humor.

I realize that as annoying as those alerts must be for me, they must be extremely annoying for the doctor.  I only receive one or two a shift, but they must receive numerous alerts throughout the day.  Still… what am I supposed to do?  Drop everything and call the doctor everytime an order for the patient’s stool softener is about to expire?  Wouldn’t repeated phone calls from nurses be WAY more annoying than clicking a few screens?

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So…why don’t they just set up the computer to NOT expire the drugs? Hm?

I don’t really understand the purpose of you or the physician getting the alert. It is frustrating that when all other disciplines refuse to do something the nurse is forced to take responsibility. I think that is a major contributor to nurse burnout.

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  • profileI am Gina. I have been a nurse for 15 years, first in med/surg, then CVICU, inpatient dialysis, CCU and now hospice. This blog is about my experiences as a nurse, and the experiences of others in the healthcare system - patients, nurses, doctors, paramedics. We all have stories!

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