Clinical Alarm Management
Improvement through collaboration
Project aim: Identify processes to eliminate non-actionable alarms, make priority and actionable alarms more effective, and influence medical device design that supports recommended changes.
Medical devices used to monitor patients are built with alarms to alert health care personnel when the patient’s vital readings are outside of a desired range. Other devices, such as an IV pump alarm when a medication is complete or if there is some interruption in delivery. In our complex health care environment, there may be many devices connected to each patient, which potentially lead to hundreds of alarms per patient daily. An alert released by the Joint Commission in April 2013 announced that 85-99% of these alarms do not actually require clinical intervention. This overwhelming amount of sound can be distracting to the clinical staff who are interrupted during care delivery to respond to an alarm that may not require a clinical intervention. As a result, the clinical staff who work in these environments often become desensitized or immune to these alarms and may not respond when an alarm requires intervention.