Case Management

News: Alarm fatigue affects nurses, patients

Case Management Weekly, February 16, 2011

Between January 2005 and June 2010, more than 200 hospital patients died because nurses did not respond urgently to alarms on patient monitors that track vital signs, according to an investigation by The Boston Globe.

ECRI Institute, a nonprofit health care research and consulting organization, analyzed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s database of adverse events involving medical devices. It found monitor alarms to be the top health technology hazard in 2009.

The investigation concluded that nurses have developed “alarm fatigue,” Simply, numerous false alarms have caused them to react without the urgency necessary to save the lives of patients in serious trouble. To illustrate the frequency of critical alarms, a 15-bed unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore experiences an average of 942 alarms daily; approximately one every 90 seconds.

Source: The Boston Globe

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