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Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety: Four Technology Recommendations to Reduce Alarm Fatigue
Date:11/15/2012

CHICAGO, Nov. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- According to ECRI Institute, an independent, nonprofit organization that researches the best approaches to improving the safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness of patient care, alarm hazards are the number-one health technology hazard for 2013.

In its report, Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2013, ECRI states:
Medical device alarms perform an essential patient safety function. Physiologic monitors, medical telemetry units, ventilators, infusion pumps, dialysis units, and a host of other medical devices sound alarms or issue alerts to warn caregivers of potential problems with the patient. The sheer number of alarms, however, has itself become problematic. The result is that caregivers can become overwhelmed trying to respond to the alarms, or they can become desensitized, which can lead to missed alarms or delayed response, placing patients at risk.

In a recent incident, a patient died "when nurses did not respond to alarms on his cardiac monitor." Massachusetts General Hospital agreed, apologized to the patient's family, and settled the case for $850,000. The Boston Globe reported, "Investigators concluded that alarm fatigue experienced by nurses working among constantly beeping monitors contributed to their inattention. Additionally, the volume for a separate audible crisis alarm on his bedside monitor had been turned off."

"Alarm fatigue is a national problem. Excessive false alarms occur frequently and contribute to alarm desensitization, mistrust, and lack of caregiver response," says Maria Cvach, MS, RN, CCRN (assistant director of nursing, clinical standards, The Johns Hopkins Hospital). "This may lead to staff disabling or ignoring alarm systems, which decreases patient safety."<
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SOURCE Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety
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