Patient monitoring systems are a vital component to the care and safety of patients within the healthcare system. They provide real-time data and measurements, and offer notification (alarms) of changes in monitored parameters, as well as previously stored data such as trends and alarm review histories. Alarm systems are built into many medical devices with the intended goal of protecting patients.
Despite the importance of alarms, an overabundance can lead to “alarm fatigue”, defined as the desensitization that staff experience from continuous exposure to frequent, often non-actionable alarms. Ultimately, this can potentially impact patient safety.
Nihon Kohden considers alarm system management a key component in reducing alarm fatigue and improving patient safety in the healthcare setting. We have taken several steps to reduce nuisance alarms or alarms that are either false or technical alarm conditions that have no significant patient safety concern and are non-actionable. Such steps to reduce nuisance alarms include:
- Increasing the advisory alarm time from 20 seconds to 120 seconds
- Customizable escalation alarms
- SpO2 alarm delay
- Respiratory algorithm changes and alarm delays
- Nihon Kohden’s Prefense smoothing algorithm
- Other customized settings designed to limit the number of audible non-actionable alarms
Below are some alarm management best practices that we have found will reduce false and nuisance alarms, as well as assist in establishing best practices for your organization while keeping patient safety as the highest priority. We also have included some troubleshooting tips to help reduce those false alarms and assist with delivering the highest quality, safest patient care available in today’s market.
We hope these recommendations help to serve as a guide as you continue to develop your own alarm management best practices and align your organization with The Joint Commission’s 2014 National Patient Safety Goal of alarm management.
Our team of Clinical Consultants is ready to assist you with your alarm concerns and best practice models. Each Clinical Consultant is a registered nurse with years of bedside, nursing leadership and administration experience. Our consultants are very knowledgeable in best practices for current patient safety and quality initiatives, as well as national and state regulatory requirements.