Automated reminders increase adherence to guidelines for administration of prophylaxis for postoperative nausea and vomiting

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Background and objectiveCorrect identification of patients at high risk for postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV), prescription of PONV prophylaxis and correct administration of medication are all important for effective PONV prophylaxis. This has been acknowledged by development of guidelines throughout the world. We studied the effect of introducing patient-specific automated reminders on timely administration of PONV prophylaxis medication during general anaesthesia.MethodsDuring the visit to the preoperative screening clinic, patients at high risk for PONV were identified and PONV prophylaxis was prescribed. To study the effect of patient-specific decision support [a pop-up window reminding the (nurse) anaesthetist that PONV prophylaxis had been prescribed for this particular patient] on the timely administration of PONV medication, we queried our database to extract data on all patients for three consecutive periods: 6 weeks before decision support (control), 12 weeks during decision support and 6 weeks after discontinuation of decision support (postdecision support) and studied how often PONV prophylaxis was administered correctly.ResultsBetween November 2005 and May 2006, 1727, 2594 and 1331 patients presented for elective surgery in the control, decision support and postdecision support periods, respectively. In the control period, 236 patients receiving general anaesthesia were scheduled to receive PONV prophylaxis. Of these, 93 (39%) received both dexamethasone and granisetron in the correct timeframe. This increased to 464 (79%) out of 591 patients in the decision support period and decreased back to 99 (41%) out of 243 patients in the postdecision support period (P < 0.001).ConclusionDecision support is effective in improving administration and timing of PONV prophylaxis medication. After withdrawal of decision support, adherence decreased to predecision support levels.

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