An estimated 85 percent to 99([FOOTNOTE=Graham KC, Cvach M. Monitor alarm fatigue: standardizing use of physiological monitors and decreasing nuisance alarms. Am J Crit Care. 2010;19(1):28-35.],[ANCHOR=],[LINK=]),([FOOTNOTE=The Joint Commission. Medical device alarm safety in hospitals. Sentinel Event Alert. April 8, 2013; issue 50. Available at: http://www.jointcommission.org/assets/1/18/SEA_50_alarms_4_5_13_FINAL1.PDF.],[ANCHOR=],[LINK=]) percent of patient alarms in healthcare facilities don’t require clinical intervention. Because of this high percentage of insignificant alerts, clinicians can develop “alarm fatigue,” which can result in them tuning out these notifications and missing the alarms that truly signal a patient’s critical medical crisis.
Monitor alarms are designed to alert caregivers to changes in a patient’s condition and can save lives. However, as the number of alarms encountered by clinicians on a daily basis rises, it has become difficult for caregivers to distinguish between clinically significant patient alarms and nuisance alarms. As a result, alarm fatigue has become a serious issue, which puts patients at risk.
Alarm fatigue is an ever-present problem for healthcare providers. It was named the number one medical technology hazard in 2015 by the ECRI Institute.([FOOTNOTE=ECRI Institute. 2015 Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns for Healthcare Organizations, April 2015.],[ANCHOR=],[LINK=]) Additionally, hospital-based clinical engineers and biomedical equipment technicians identified alarm management as one of their top medical device challenges in two separate surveys by AAMI.
In April 2013, The Joint Commission in the United States addressed this issue in a Sentinel Event Alert (SEA) on Medical Device Alarm Safety in Hospitals.2 SEA was followed by a National Patient Safety Goal (NPSG) on Alarm Management issued in June 2013,4 which is effective in two phases*:
*US best practice example