Richard Schreiber, Dean F Sittig, Joan Ash, Adam Wright; Orders on file but no labs drawn: investigation of machine and human errors caused by an interface idiosyncrasy. J Am Med Inform Assoc 2017 ocw188. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocw188
In this report, we describe 2 instances in which expert use of an electronic health record (EHR) system interfaced to an external clinical laboratory information system led to unintended consequences wherein 2 patients failed to have laboratory tests drawn in a timely manner. In both events, user actions combined with the lack of an acknowledgment message describing the order cancellation from the external clinical system were the root causes. In 1 case, rapid, near-simultaneous order entry was the culprit; in the second, astute order management by a clinician, unaware of the lack of proper 2-way interface messaging from the external clinical system, led to the confusion. Although testing had shown that the laboratory system would cancel duplicate laboratory orders, it was thought that duplicate alerting in the new order entry system would prevent such events.