Monitor alarm fatigue: an integrative review

Biomed Instrum Technol. 2012 Jul-Aug;46(4):268-77. doi: 10.2345/0899-8205-46.4.268.


Alarm fatigue is a national problem and the number one medical device technology hazard in 2012. The problem of alarm desensitization is multifaceted and related to a high false alarm rate, poor positive predictive value, lack of alarm standardization, and the number of alarming medical devices in hospitals today. This integrative review synthesizes research and non-research findings published between 1/1/2000 and 10/1/2011 using The Johns Hopkins Nursing Evidence-Based Practice model. Seventy-two articles were included. Research evidence was organized into five main themes: excessive alarms and effects on staff; nurse's response to alarms; alarm sounds and audibility; technology to reduce false alarms; and alarm notification systems. Non-research evidence was divided into two main themes: strategies to reduce alarm desensitization, and alarm priority and notification systems. Evidence-based practice recommendations and gaps in research are summarized.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Alarms*
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Man-Machine Systems*
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control*
  • Noise / adverse effects
  • Safety Management / organization & administration*
  • United States