Managing clinical alarm systems

Patient safety issues often signal problems with inappropriate alarm use, ineffective alarm coverage or delayed alarm response

By Healthcare Facilities Today
March 3, 2014

Despite numerous strategies and guidelines aimed at establishing proper use of clinical alarms, patient harm still occurs. These patient safety issues often signal problems pertaining to inappropriate alarm use, ineffective alarm coverage or delayed alarm response, according to an article on the Healthcare Facilities Management magazine website.

A National Patient Safety Goal for 2014 has elevated the issue of clinical alarm safety to a high priority for all hospitals that are accredited by the Joint Commission. To implement an effective and efficient alarm management system, a hospital's culture, practices and technology must be addressed, the article said.

Recent advances in current alarm coverage systems include physiologic monitors that can be networked so alarm notification not only emanates from the bedside device, but also triggers alarm notifications from a central location — such as the nurses' station. Other advancements include enunciators that provide audible alarms in locations where it may be difficult to hear device alarms and remote displays in strategic locations that mirror the central station display.

Each hospital faces competing budget, time and resource constraints that can become barriers to addressing alarm issues, according to the article. These factors can hinder changes that could improve alarm coverage and reduce alarm fatigue. Alarm management issues need a team approach with special focus on planning, design and implementation.

Gathering input from key stakeholders during the initial stages of alarm management planning for new or existing hospitals and units is essential to building optimal alarm coverage models and reducing safety issues such as alarm fatigue and missed events, the article said. The role of facilities and IT leaders in the planning process is important because they will be responsible for ensuring that hospital units will have the wiring for alarm integration systems. 

Read the article.

 

 

 

 

 

 




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