Alarm Fatigue

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Combating Alarm Fatigue: A Matter of Life and Death

Alarm Fatigue

Nurses, especially in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), use information from a multitude of medical devices, particularly cardiac monitors, to guide them in providing care for their patients. Unfortunately, due to the frequency of unnecessary and false alarms, the devices that are meant to help nurses actually can do the opposite. Alarm fatigue can develop when a nurse is frequently exposed to an unnecessary number of alarms. "This situation can result in sensory overload, which may cause the person to become desensitized to the alarms" (Sendelbach & Jepsen, 2013. p.1). All nurses need to be aware of this important safety issue and institute practices to reduce the number of unnecessary and false alarms.

History of Topic Over the last 60 years, many advances in clinical alarms and technology were put in place "to notify staff of equipment malfunctions or changes in patient condition" (Hannibal, 2011. p.418). In March 2012, a 17 year old girl sustained an anoxic brain injury and later died after the recovery room nurses failed to recognize and intervene when her respiratory condition and vital signs declined. This was because the alarms "were not properly set and was muted" ("Teen's death", 2013 p.61). "According to The Joint Commission's Sentinel Event database, hospitals voluntarily reported 80 deaths and 13 severe injuries that occurred between January 2009 and June 2012" ("The Joint Commission:," 2013). An article in the journal, Nursing 2013, states "the FDA received 566 reports of alarm-related patient deaths between January 2005 and June 2010" ("Don't give in," 2013).

Current Impact of Topic On April 8, 2013, The Joint Commission (TJC) issued sentinel event alert…...

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