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=View Abstract],[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 addressed the issue in a Sentinel Event Alert (SEA) on Medical Device Alarm Safety in Hospitals.([FOOTNOTE=The Joint Commission. Medical device alarm safety in hospitals. Sentinel Event Alert. April 8, 2013; issue 50. Available at:],[ANCHOR=View Abstract],[LINK=/content/covidien/websites/medtronic/com/en/covidien/support/clinical-evidence.html?id=805203]) SEA was followed by a National Patient Safety Goal (NPSG) on Alarm Management issued in June 2013,([FOOTNOTE=The Joint Commission. Facts about the National Patient Safety Goals. National Patient Safety Goal on Alarm Management. June 25, 2013. Available at:],[ANCHOR=View Abstract],[LINK=]) which is effective in two phases:

  • 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.
  • 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 2016.3

Top 10 Patient Safety Concerns for Healthcare Organizations