Patient Monitor Alarms

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:],[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.

Connect with Medtronic Patient Monitoring & Respiratory Interventions
Your platform for clinical & product educational content. 

Nellcor™ SatSeconds And SPD Alarm Management Overview

 Short video on how Nellcor™ pulse oximetry technology may help clinicians with alarm management.


Alarm Fatigue

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*:

  1. In phase I, effective January 2014, hospitals were required to establish alarms as an organization priority and identify the most important alarms to manage based on their own internal situations.
  2. In phase II, effective January 2016, hospitals will be expected to develop and implement specific components of policies and procedures. Education of those in the organization about alarm system management will also be required in January 2016.([FOOTNOTE=The Joint Commission. Facts about the National Patient Safety Goals. National Patient Safety Goal on Alarm Management. June 25, 2013. Available at:],[ANCHOR=],[LINK=])

*US best practice example


Discover below which product solutions from Medtronic can help clinicians with alarm management.


Discover our broad online education offering.