Alarm fatigue is real and needs to be addressed
The constant beeping of alarms and an overabundance of information transmitted by medical devices such as ventilators, blood pressure monitors and ECG machines is creating “alarm fatigue” that puts hospital patients at serious risk, according to a Sentinel Event Alert issued in early April 2013 by The Joint Commission. A story in the Associated Press echoes this warning. According to the AP story, due to the constant beeping, some hospital workers are becoming “desensitized” to these alerts and are ignoring them at the peril of patients. At least two dozen deaths per year have been attributed to alarm fatigue.
Alarm fatigue is the result of the huge arsenal of patient monitors in hospitals that go off so often nurses become slower in their responses to the alarms. The frequency and variety of alarms demanding attention can be overwhelming, and it often becomes difficult to distinguish the urgency of an alarm, as all alarms tend to blend into the hospital’s background noise. No hospital is completely immune to alarm fatigue problems that can hinder the quality of patient care and in some cases lead to fatalities.
Alarm fatigue can be overcome if hospitals employ the proper technology and training. You can actually learn from your clinical alarms. If you are NOT analyzing your current clinical alarm statistics, alarm fatigue can set in and cause life-threatening alarms to be ignored. By studying the causes and sources of clinical alarms, you can discover why, where and when unnecessary alarms are occurring. Critical Response Systems ResponseView Dashboard provides real time analytics on your alarm messaging. These analytics provide actionable results and information that you can use for training purposes to establish new procedures and processes to reduce unnecessary alarms.
One of Critical Response Systems’ major hospital clients recently received an award for their work on alarm fatigue. The award was presented by the ECRI Institute, an independent, nonprofit organization that researches the best approaches to improving the safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness of patient care. The hospital uses the CRS critical alerting solution and the M1503 Pager to provides a dedicated system for enterprise-wide critical alerting that works to reduce alarm fatigue by combining excellent performance with reliability, helping to ensure that all critical alert alarms are handled properly.