Electronic Order Sets Can Improve Care

It is recognized that checklists can improve medical care as well as help you remember to pick up butter when you go shopping.  So, it is not surprising that a standardized electronic order set can improve patient care.  A recent prospective observational study has shown that implementation of an electronic order set improved the care of 123 patients with cirrhosis who presented with upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage (Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2013; 11: 1342-1348).

This study was conducted from 2011 to 2012.

Key findings:

  • Administration of antibiotics increased in patients in whom the order set was used: 100% compared with 89%. A previous Cochrane meta-analysis has noted a mortality risk reduction of nearly 20% in patients who received prophylactic antibiotics in this setting.
  • Order set usage was associated with quicker administration of antibiotics: 3h28min compared with 10h4min.
  • Time for octreotide administration was reduced in patients with the order set: 2h16min vs 6h21min.
  • Mortality was not reduced in this study by using an order set.  In fact, in those who used an order set there were 7 mortalities (out of 61) compared with only 2 mortalities (out of 62) who did not use order sets.

Order set use was at the discretion of the treating physician.  This could have led to selection bias.

Bottomline: Use of a standardized order set improved adherence and timeliness of recommended therapies.

Related blog posts: