Attitudes and Practices Related to Clinical Alarms.

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Attitudes and Practices Related to Clinical Alarms.

Am J Crit Care. 2014 May;23(3):e9-e18

Authors: Funk M, Clark JT, Bauld TJ, Ott JC, Coss P

Background The number of devices with alarms has multiplied in recent years, causing alarm fatigue in bedside clinicians. Alarm fatigue is now recognized as a critical safety issue. Objective To determine if attitudes and practices related to clinical alarms have changed since 2005. Methods The Healthcare Technology Foundation's Clinical Alarms Committee developed an online survey for hospital personnel that addressed attitudes and practices related to clinical alarms. They administered it in 2005-2006 and in 2011 and compared the results. Results Respondents were asked about their level of agreement with 19 statements about alarms. Many of the statements revealed no significant differences between the 2 survey years, although some differences were apparent. Respondents to the 2011 survey were significantly more likely to agree with statements about alarm sounds differentiating the priority of alarm and the helpfulness of central alarm management. Respondents in 2011 were significantly less likely to feel that nuisance alarms occur frequently and disrupt patient care. Respondents also ranked the importance of 9 different alarm issues. In both years, they ranked frequent false alarms as the most important. In response to a new question in the 2011 survey, 18% of respondents reported patients' experiencing adverse events related to alarms at their institutions. Conclusions Since 2005-2006 when the first survey was conducted, not much has changed. False alarms continue to contribute to a noisy hospital environment, and sentinel events related to alarm fatigue persist. Alarm hazards are a significant patient safety issue.

PMID: 24786820 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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