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August 26, 2019
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Clinical alarms were designed with the best of intentions—to alert clinicians about patient emergencies or changes in patient conditions. Most bedside medical devices, such as monitors, infusion pumps and ventilators, are alarm-equipped, but the lack of interoperability among these devices means multiple noises per patient room. Depending on the hospital unit, the number of clinical alerts per patient per day can result in thousands of alarm signals on every unit and tens of thousands throughout the hospital. The inevitable result? Alarm fatigue. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) defines alarm fatigue as “sensory overload when clinicians are exposed to an excessive number of alarms, which can result in desensitization to alarms and missed alarms.”

Alarm fatigue can also cause delayed clinician response to alarms, which poses a significant threat to patient safety. Alarm management has been identified by the Joint Commission as a national patient safety goal, meaning hospitals must take measures to reduce unnecessary alarms in order to receive accreditation.

In May, the AACN released a critical-care practice alert on “Managing Alarms in Acute Care Across the Life Span: Electrocardiography and Pulse Oximetry.” The report outlines protocols and strategies healthcare organizations can use to improve alarm management.

“This practice alert takes what is known about alarm management and puts it into action-oriented strategies to help nurses provide the safest patient care possible when managing clinical alarms in acute and critical-care environments,” says Linda Bell, MSN, RN, AACN clinical practical specialist.

The AACN’s latest practice alert advises nurses and bedside clinicians to “provide proper skin preparation for and placement of ECG electrodes” and to “use proper oxygen saturation probes and placement.” In addition, they offer two other recommendations, both of which Amplion can help your hospital or healthcare organization implement:

AACN Recommendation: “Check alarm settings at the start of every shift, with any change in patient condition and with any change in caregiver.”

Amplion Solution: Amplion’s Care Assurance platform makes it easy to monitor patient care by room. At the foot of every bed, our Care Assurance Station enables recording of in-room response time and the staff type responding. Clinicians can also do a reminder reset for rounding, turns and pain control. Nurses and nurse leaders can measure and manage alarm activity by floor, device and even patient room.

AACN Recommendation: “Customize alarm parameter settings for individual patients in accordance with unit or hospital policy.”

Amplion Solution: With Amplion’s Care Traffic Controller station, nurses can create individual patient profiles to document fall risk, isolation, rounding and other special needs unique to that patient. Patient profiles also specify what type of device a patient is supposed to be on, and will trigger “unmonitored” alarms if no device cable is present. The system, including escalation paths and wait times, can be customized to match hospital preferences.

At Amplion, reducing alarm fatigue and improving the delivery of patient care are our top priorities. Alarm input devices are installed in every patient room to support the in-room medical devices. Each medical device is plugged into its own, color-coded jack using Amplion-supplied cables. With our Care Assurance platform, Amplion’s system integrates messages from these devices and notifies caregivers with certain skill sets when patients have specific needs. Plus, alarms are filtered with wait times to reduce alarm fatigue. The result? Less-stressed nurses and better patient care.

If you want to know the cost of outdated technology to your hospital, staff and patient care, talk to one of our technical specialists today.

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