Alarm signals are disrupting patients’ recovery and exhausting clinical staff, according to a commentary published by Bernoulli Chief Nursing Officer Jeanne Venella, DNP, MS, RN, CEN, CPEN, in the Spring 2017 issue of AAMI Horizons.
“Drawing Up a New Game Plan to Reduce Alarm Fatigue” notes that 85 percent to 99 percent of alarms require no intervention on the part of clinical staff. In addition to alarm fatigue, this growing problem represents a significant risk to patient safety if caregivers arbitrarily adjust threshold settings on devices or shut them off completely.
The problem has become so severe that the Joint Commission made clinical alarm management a priority with its National Patient Safety Goal (NPSG.06.01.01), mandating that hospitals take definitive steps to implement policies and procedures to safely reduce and prioritize clinical alarms.
Venella explores the logical steps hospitals and health systems should take to get their alarm issue under control, including:
- Assessing the current state of the clinical alarm environment, identifying and developing targets for reduction, and evaluating appropriate interventions, policies, and standards.
- Performing a baseline alarm management study to separate clinically relevant alarms from non-actionable alarms and managing the ever-growing number of alarm-enabled medical devices.
- Devising standards and strategies for executing on a clinical alarm management program
Writes Venella, “Alarm management is a classic example of interdisciplinary leadership, involving clinical, IT, biomedical engineering, and other departments. Alarm management is also much more than simply reducing non-actionable alarms; it’s a gateway for more seamless care and a way for hospitals to leverage hard data to make continuous improvements to its care and response processes.”