Nurses' responses to monitor alarms in an intensive care unit: An observational study

Intensive Crit Care Nurs. 2020 Aug:59:102845. doi: 10.1016/j.iccn.2020.102845. Epub 2020 Mar 29.


Objective: The present study aimed to determine the types of monitor alarms and nurses' responses to them in an adult intensive care unit.

Design and methods: This was an observational descriptive research study conducted in the adult intensive care unit of a university hospital in the Mediterranean region of Turkey. The nonparticipant observation method was used. Data were collected by two observers using a semi-structured observation form developed according to literature.

Results: Between August 2016 and January 2017, 13 registered nurses were observed for 328 hours. There were 1781 alarms, which included alarms for blood pressure (37.6%), respiration and oxygen saturation (35.3%) and heart rate and arrhythmia (27.1%). Nurses responded to approximately half (46.9%) of the alarms that required a response. Responses to alarms included silencing them, responding to the patient's clinical condition and solving contact and transmission problems.

Conclusion: In the present study, according to response requirement, the division of the alarms was different. The number of alarms that do not reflect the clinical status of the patient was high. It was found that as the false alarm rate increased, the response rate of nurses to these alarms decreased.

Keywords: Clinical alarms; Intensive care unit; Observation; Physiologic monitoring.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Clinical Alarms / adverse effects*
  • Clinical Alarms / standards
  • Clinical Alarms / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / organization & administration
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurses / psychology*
  • Nurses / statistics & numerical data
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Turkey