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.
- Patient safety