Alarms are meant to command your attention. They are annoying and loud by design. In a hospital, however, alarms without management can be dangerous to patients and employees. It also reduces patient and employee satisfaction.
The common strategies used by hospitals to manage alarms focus primarily or exclusively on reduction. This makes sense for several reasons:
– The majority of bedside alarms are not indicative of patient deterioration;
– Alarm fatigue in clinical staff is a documented patient safety threat; and
– Alarm proliferation and its attendant noise is disruptive to the recovery process.
However, alarm reduction is only part of the equation. Hospitals are challenged with striking a balance between communicating essential, patient-safety specific information in addition to minimizing excess, spurious and non-emergent events. In other words, clinical alarm management should be both quantitative and qualitative.
This can be achieved first by understanding the current state of alarms within an affected unit. Then, by leveraging a solution capable of capturing and filtering high-resolution data from multiple physiologic devices—not just individual alarms—and distributing it to the right clinicians at the right time in order to facilitate the appropriate intervention.
More than quantitative reductions, modern alarm management is an essential component of real-time healthcare and clinical decision support.
Read the rest of my post from HIT consultant here.