Clinical alarms are supposed to alert caregivers that an intervention with a patient is required, or to remind them that care needs to be delivered. Unfortunately, patient-facing clinical staff are forced to respond to hundreds of daily alarms—the majority of which require no intervention—leading to alarm fatigue, disrupted clinical workflows, and compromised patient safety.
The issue has become so severe that the ECRI Institute identifies “the failure to recognize and respond to actionable clinical alarms... in a timely manner” as the second highest patient safety risk in its Top 10 Health Technology Hazards for 2016.
Across the industry, response to this concern has grown, with organizations such as the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation actively leading the effort on alarm management safety. The American Association of Critical Care Nurses and the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists also offer resources materials to help organizations develop best practices.
Most recently, in 2016, Phase II of the Joint Commission’s National Patient Safety Goal (NPSG) on clinical alarm safety mandated the establishment of clinical alarm management policies and education as an institutional priority. However, many stakeholders struggle to accurately define the current state of their alarm ecosystem, much less identify and implement potential solutions.