Published On June 10, 2016
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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The sounds of talking and footsteps, overhead paging, and beeping equipment can add up to quite a cacophony.