Data-driven parameters can help reduce alarm fatigue

New research finds that use of data-driven parameters to modify and reduce alarm limits is one viable option for cutting alarm fatigue, which regularly is cited as a top healthcare hazard.

The study, published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, focuses on alarm use for hospitalized children at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford.

The facility’s electronic health record system was accessed to find vital sign measurements for heart rate (HR) and respiratory rate (RR) for patients. The researchers then analyzed rapid response team and cardiorespiratory arrest events over the course of a year, using HR and RR values before the event to find the number of patients with out-of-range vitals.

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The researchers found that through the data-based parameters, there were 24,045 (55.6 percent) fewer out-of-range measurements.

“Our results suggest that this evidence-based approach may reduce the frequency of false alarms [thereby mitigating alarm fatigue], and should be studied prospectively for implementation in the clinical setting,” they conclude.

Other health systems have made reducing alarms a priority. At Boston Medical Center, "crisis level" alerts are the only audible ones, the rest are visual messages. And Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center created a team-based approach that significantly reduced non-essential alarms.

The Joint Commission in 2013 issued a warning that workers can become numb to the incessant beeping of medical devices, creating life-threatening situations for patients.

To learn more:
- check out the study abstract

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