Use of simulation to assess electronic health record safety in the intensive care unit: A pilot study

Christopher A. March, David Steiger, Gretchen Scholl, Vishnu Mohan, William R. Hersh, Jeffrey A. Gold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Objective: To establish the role of high-fidelity simulation training to test the efficacy and safety of the electronic health record (EHR)-user interface within the intensive care unit (ICU) environment. Design: Prospective pilot study. Setting: Medical ICU in an academic medical centre. Participants: Postgraduate medical trainees. Interventions: A 5-day-simulated ICU patient was developed in the EHR including labs, hourly vitals, medication administration, ventilator settings, nursing and notes. Fourteen medical issues requiring recognition and subsequent changes in management were included. Issues were chosen based on their frequency of occurrence within the ICU and their ability to test different aspects of the EHR-user interface. ICU residents, blinded to the presence of medical errors within the case, were provided a sign-out and given 10 min to review the case in the EHR. They then presented the case with their management suggestions to an attending physician. Participants were graded on the number of issues identified. All participants were provided with immediate feedback upon completion of the simulation. Primary and secondary outcomes: To determine the frequency of error recognition in an EHR simulation. To determine factors associated with improved performance in the simulation. Results: 38 participants including 9 interns, 10 residents and 19 fellows were tested. The average error recognition rate was 41% (range 6-73%), which increased slightly with the level of training (35%, 41% and 50% for interns, residents, and fellows, respectively). Over-sedation was the least-recognised error (16%); poor glycemic control was most often recognised (68%). Only 32% of the participants recognised inappropriate antibiotic dosing. Performance correlated with the total number of screens used ( p=0.03). Conclusions: Despite development of comprehensive EHRs, there remain significant gaps in identifying dangerous medical management issues. This gap remains despite high levels of medical training, suggesting that EHR-specific training may be beneficial. Simulation provides a novel tool in order to both identify these gaps as well as foster EHR-specific training.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere002549
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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