The use of computerized clinical decision support systems in emergency care: A substantive review of the literature

Paula Bennett, Nicholas R Hardiker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: This paper provides a substantive review of international literature evaluating the impact of computerized clinical decision support systems (CCDSSs) on the care of emergency department (ED) patients.

Material and Methods: A literature search was conducted using Medline, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Embase electronic resources, and gray literature. Studies were selected if they compared the use of a CCDSS with usual care in a face-to-face clinical interaction in an ED.

Results: Of the 23 studies included, approximately half demonstrated a statistically significant positive impact on aspects of clinical care with the use of CCDSSs. The remaining studies showed small improvements, mainly around documentation. However, the methodological quality of the studies was poor, with few or no controls to mitigate against confounding variables. The risk of bias was high in all but 6 studies.

Discussion: The ED environment is complex and does not lend itself to robust quantitative designs such as randomized controlled trials. The quality of the research in ∼75% of the studies was poor, and therefore conclusions cannot be drawn from these results. However, the studies with a more robust design show evidence of the positive impact of CCDSSs on ED patient care.

Conclusion: This is the first review to consider the role of CCDSSs in emergency care and expose the research in this area. The role of CCDSSs in emergency care may provide some solutions to the current challenges in EDs, but further high-quality research is needed to better understand what technological solutions can offer clinicians and patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-668
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association : JAMIA
Issue number3
Early online date23 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017
Externally publishedYes


Cite this