OBJECTIVE: To describe the foci, activities, methods, and results of a 4-year research project identifying the unintended consequences of computerized provider order entry (CPOE). METHODS: Using a mixed methods approach, we identified and categorized into nine types 380 examples of the unintended consequences of CPOE gleaned from fieldwork data and a conference of experts. We then conducted a national survey in the U.S.A. to discover how hospitals with varying levels of infusion, a measure of CPOE sophistication, recognize and deal with unintended consequences. The research team, with assistance from experts, identified strategies for managing the nine types of unintended adverse consequences and developed and disseminated tools for CPOE implementers to help in addressing these consequences. RESULTS: Hospitals reported that levels of infusion are quite high and that these types of unintended consequences are common. Strategies for avoiding or managing the unintended consequences are similar to best practices for CPOE success published in the literature. CONCLUSION: Development of a taxonomy of types of unintended adverse consequences of CPOE using qualitative methods allowed us to craft a national survey and discover how widespread these consequences are. Using mixed methods, we were able to structure an approach for addressing the skillful management of unintended consequences as well.
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