Alarm fatigue: a patient safety concern

AACN Adv Crit Care. Oct-Dec 2013;24(4):378-86; quiz 387-8. doi: 10.1097/NCI.0b013e3182a903f9.

Abstract

Research has demonstrated that 72% to 99% of clinical alarms are false. The high number of false alarms has led to alarm fatigue. Alarm fatigue is sensory overload when clinicians are exposed to an excessive number of alarms, which can result in desensitization to alarms and missed alarms. Patient deaths have been attributed to alarm fatigue. Patient safety and regulatory agencies have focused on the issue of alarm fatigue, and it is a 2014 Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal. Quality improvement projects have demonstrated that strategies such as daily electrocardiogram electrode changes, proper skin preparation, education, and customization of alarm parameters have been able to decrease the number of false alarms. These and other strategies need to be tested in rigorous clinical trials to determine whether they reduce alarm burden without compromising patient safety.

MeSH terms

  • Baltimore
  • Education, Nursing, Continuing
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods
  • Patient Safety*