ElectronicHealthcare 2(1) February 2003 : 49-50

Beware Clinical Decision Support - But You May Already Have To Use It


Hospitals looking at clinical decision support systems should be aware of the two-edged sword such systems could turn into if they're not thoughtfully implemented. Both edges are pretty sharp.

That's the conclusion of Eta S. Berner, a professor of healthcare informatics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and author of a sobering article in the fall Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Journal. If you haven't seen it, the gist is that:

  • Hospitals could be liable if their clinicians make decisions based on a decision-support system that has faulty or incomplete rules, and they could be held responsible for those rules even if the vendor programmed them; and
  • Decision-support systems are getting to be just common enough to begin to constitute a standard of care, and hospitals might be liable for not having one if its absence is deemed to have harmed a patient, or if a doctor overrides the system without a good reason.



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