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Over the past few years, technological utilization in the hospital industry has significantly increased. The development of sophisticated monitoring devices, many of which include built-in alarms that notify the appropriate authority about a deviation from the standard, is a result of the advancement in automation. Infusion or feeding pumps, wound vacuum equipment, ventilators, patient call systems, and respiratory monitoring equipment can all be equipped with alarms. (Bogner, 2004). Alarms may increase unit loudness and weariness despite safeguarding the patient. The resulting noise may cause medical professionals to take improper steps, such as turning off or turning down the loudness of alerts, or extending signal limits beyond what is reasonable. According to Washington Post (2013), alarm fatigue may cause clinicians to either ignore or shut the signal off, which may result in serious consequences.
In hospital A, a patient was transferred to a surgical intensive care after an operation. Unfortunately, he developed cardiac arrest at the time the assigned nurse was out of the room. The alarm sound volume had been set too low making it hard for clinicians outside the patient’s room to hear it. Moreover, despite having a central monitoring system in the hospital, the clinic did not have a specific staff to watch and listen to the monitors. There was a long and fatal delay before another personnel responded to the tracing observed on the central monitor (The Washington Post, 2013).
Hospital A was prompted to take aggressive steps after the incidence. Staff members were trained on how to use monitoring equipment. During learning, one nurse admitted that she did not know that silencing an alarm also silenced the crisis one (Pennsylvania Institute of Technology, 2014, Elhabashy, 2015). Having knowledge on different alarm signal will help in taking appropriate action by any hospital staff (AACN, 2015, Agrawal, 2016). In addition, the clinic ensured that central monitoring system was working effectively and continuously. Likewise, monitor-watchers were hired to always keep an eye on and listen to the monitors (Kowalczyk, 2011).
AACN. (2015). Critical Care Nurse. The Journal for high acuity,progressive, and critical care nursing, 35(4).
Agrawal, A. (2016). Safety of Health IT: Clinical Case Studies. Cham: Springer International Publishing.
Bogner, M. S. (2004). Misadventures in health care: Inside stories. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Elhabashy, S. A. (2015). Clinical Alarms Hazards and Management At Critical Care Settings. S.L.: Lulu Com.
Kowalczyk, L. (2011, February 13). SAFE STAFFING FOR HEALTH & SAFETY. Retrieved from https://massnurses.org/health-and-safety/articles/safe-staffing/p/openItem/5623
Lacker, C. (2011). Physiologic Alarm Management. Pennsylvania Patient Safety Advisory, 8(3), 105-108.
Pennsylvania Institute of Technology. (2014, January 12). Hot Topic in Nursing | Alarm Fatigue ICU. Retrieved from https://www.pit.edu/blog/?p=1193
Rizk, K. (2016). What’s the Problem with Clinical Alarms in Hospitals. Human and Health, 36, 40-41.
The Washington Post. (2013, July 7). Too much noise from hospital alarms poses risk for patients. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/feature/wp/2013/07/07/too-much-noise-from-hospital-alarms-poses-risk-for-patients/?utm_term=.8233a53edc9c
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