Clinical alarm hazards: a "top ten" health technology safety concern

J Electrocardiol. 2012 Nov-Dec;45(6):588-91. doi: 10.1016/j.jelectrocard.2012.08.050. Epub 2012 Sep 27.


For the past several years ECRI Institute has published a list of Top Ten Health Technology Hazards. This list is based on ECRI's extensive research in health technology safety and on data provided to its problemreporting systems. For every year that the Top Ten list has been published, Alarm Hazards have been at or near the top of the list. Improving alarm safety requires a systematic review of a hospital's alarm-based technologies and analysis of alarm management policies like alarm escalation strategies and staffing patterns. It also requires careful selection of alarm setting criteria for each clinical care area. This article will overview the clinical alarm problems that have been identified through ECRI Institute's research and analysis of various problem reporting databases, including those operated by ECRI Institute. It will also highlight suggestions for improvement, particularly from a technology design and technology management perspective.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Alarms*
  • Equipment Safety*
  • Humans
  • Medical Errors / prevention & control*
  • Patient Safety*
  • Workload*