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ICU

Published On June 10, 2016

TECHNOLOGY

Unsound the Alarm

Hundreds of alarms compete for a clinician's attention. Can less noise mean better care?

Critical care units are alive with the chirping of monitors. A single patient may generate dozens of alarms per day, all of which can add up to tens of thousands of alarms throughout a hospital. Nurses, who are generally responsible for responding to these alarms, face the challenging task of deciphering which alarms are clinically
irrelevant while not becoming desensitized.

Managing the cacophony  had the dubious honor of being named the top patient safety concern for hospitals in 2015 by the ECRI Institute, a nonprofit that advocates for patient safety.  To address the problem, The Joint Commission, which accredits approximately 77% of the nation’s hospitals , drew up new national patient safety goals for managing clinical alarms and alarm fatigue. Accredited hospitals were given until Jan. 1, 2016, to meet them.

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