Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Hospital alleviates alarm fatigue by decreasing noise

Date:
January 15, 2014
Source:
Boston University Medical Center
Summary:
One American hospital successfully reduced audible alarms as a way to combat alarm fatigue and improve patient safety. The hospital implemented a novel cost-effective approach during a six-week pilot program that resulted in a drastic drop in audible alarms.

Boston Medical Center (BMC) successfully reduced audible alarms as a way to combat alarm fatigue and improve patient safety. The hospital, one of two in the country that spearheaded this issue, implemented a novel cost-effective approach during a six-week pilot program that resulted in a drastic drop in audible alarms. The successful approach has since been expanded to all BMC inpatient medical surgical units and is being touted as a model for other hospitals working to combat alarm fatigue.

Related Articles


Clinical alarm fatigue describes when providers become desensitized to the constant beeps from monitors that could result in a failure to respond (or failure to respond quickly enough) to alarms indicative of a potential life-threatening condition. A recent JAMA article warned of alarm fatigue from the number of monitor alarms sounding, creating a potential hazard to patients.

The Joint Commission, a nonprofit organization that accredits more than 20,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, issued a Sentinel Event Alert about 80 alarm-related deaths that occurred between January 2009-June 2012 and identified alarm safety as a 2014 national patient safety goal. BMC's innovative alarm work was featured in a May 2013 Joint Commission webinar that attracted thousands of participants nationwide and served as an example to urge hospitals to develop and implement plans to better manage alarms to increase patient safety.

"Alarm fatigue and management of alarms are important safety issues that we must confront," says Ana McKee, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer, The Joint Commission. "The work of Boston Medical Center and numerous others who are trying to find solutions to this very serious patient safety issue should be applauded. By making alarm safety a priority, lives can be saved."

BMC data showed that patient status arrhythmia and parameter limit "warning" alarms frequently preceded life-threatening arrhythmic events. During the pilot, these alarms were raised to "crisis." "Crisis" alarms are heard in real time and require immediate action, which nurses felt could increase patient safety. Nurses also tailored alarm settings that did not indicate a true crisis based on individual patient health care needs.

Working in a cardiology unit, BMC reduced audible cardiac monitor and telemetry alarms by 89 percent, dropping daily audible alarm averages from 12,546 to 1,424. Before the pilot, the unit averaged 87,823 weekly audible alarms. During the pilot, the number dropped significantly to an average of 9,967 weekly audible alarms, with the largest decrease from the changes to monitors for bradycardia, tachycardia and heart rate parameter limits, which dropped from 62,793 to 3,970. Additionally, daily reviews of incident reports showed that no reports were filed during the pilot for adverse events involving cardiac monitoring.

Noise levels fell to 72 decibels from 90 decibels pre-pilot. Patient and clinician satisfaction increased and none of the changes made during the pilot required additional technology or financial resources.

"While some hospitals are looking to add technology to combat this issue, BMC's approach demonstrates the opportunity for clinicians to interact with current alarm systems more effectively to decrease clinical alarm fatigue while simultaneously capturing and displaying all important alarms," said James Piepenbrink, BSBME, director of clinical engineering at BMC and a study co-author.

The pilot's results led BMC to implement these changes on inpatient medical/surgical units throughout the hospital. By January 2013, 310 of 332 beds in these units were operating under the new alarm standards with significant alarm reductions and increases in patient and staff safety and satisfaction.

Nurses were surveyed anonymously both before and after the pilot about the unit noise level, and the "acceptable" noise level score went from 0 to 64 percent. Additionally, nurses were asked how these changes had impacted their work environment. One said, "I feel so much less drained going home at the end of my shift."

While patient satisfaction was not an area of focus for the pilot study, scores recorded through Press Ganey Inpatient Metrics showed an increase in nurse responsiveness and patients' needs being addressed more promptly.

"These changes resulted in staff having more time to directly care for patients and interact with their families, which corresponded to an increase in both patient and provider satisfaction," said Deborah Whalen, MSN, APRN, ANP-BC, BMC clinical service manager, cardiology nurse practitioner and study co-author.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Boston University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Deborah A. Whalen, Patricia M. Covelle, James C. Piepenbrink, Karen L. Villanova, Charlotte L. Cuneo, Eric H. Awtry. Novel Approach to Cardiac Alarm Management on Telemetry Units. The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing, 2013; 1 DOI: 10.1097/JCN.0000000000000114

Cite This Page:

Boston University Medical Center. "Hospital alleviates alarm fatigue by decreasing noise." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 January 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140115172938.htm>.
Boston University Medical Center. (2014, January 15). Hospital alleviates alarm fatigue by decreasing noise. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140115172938.htm
Boston University Medical Center. "Hospital alleviates alarm fatigue by decreasing noise." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140115172938.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins