Nursing

Ask the expert: Automated alarms and monitoring systems

Nurse Leader Insider, May 23, 2011

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This week, Gary L. Sculli, RN, MSN, ATP, and David M. Sine, MA, CSP, ARM, CPHRM, discuss ways to use technology to your advantage to deliver quality care.

Q: How can I make sure the many alarms, systems, and other technologies I use are helping me deliver quality care instead of hindering me?

A: Working in an environment where there are multiple aural alerts constantly going off makes clinicians weary; eventually, they become desensitized to the alarm and tune it out, turn it down, and in some cases turn it off. In this case the clinician is really saying, “I don’t need the alarm, I’ll keep my eye on the patient and I’ll be able to see if something is wrong.”

On the other end of the spectrum of responses exists the opposite of alert fatigue, which is called primary/backup inversion. Here the clinician is saying, “Not only do I depend on the alarm, but I trust the alarm implicitly.”

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Editor's note: Do you have a question for our experts? E-mail your queries to Associate Editor Jaclyn Beck at jbeck@hcpro.com and see your name in print next week! In the meantime, head over to our Web site and view a growing collection of advice from our experts.



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