Fewer alarms net positive results for Abbott Northwestern Hospital

In an effort to cut down on alarm fatigue, Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis took steps to reduce the number of alarms it uses while making sure staff didn't miss patient emergencies.

The facility had a goal to avoid alarms that don't call for an urgent response, according to an article published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Alarm fatigue remains the leading health technology hazard at healthcare organizations, topping the ECRI Institute's Top 10 list for the fourth year in a row.

Abbott administrators decided to tackle alarm fatigue by changing the default settings for pulse-rate alarms, which had very conservative thresholds of high and low beats per minute; they also looked to stop duplicate alarms for cardiac issues.

Within six months, the number of pulse rate alarms fell by 76 percent. In addition, the nurses did not find any incidents of missed patient emergencies, and said that they responded more quickly to alarms, according to the article.

"It relieves some of the stress of being a nurse," Todd Ostlund, a nurse at Abbott, told the publication.

Due to the success of the project, the hospital expanded it to its neuro ICU and is planning on reviewing the frequency of alarms for IV lines.

In a similar vein, researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center created a standardized cardiac monitor care procedure for the hospital's pediatric bone marrow transplant unit. Through the project, the median number of daily cardiac alarms fell from 180 to 40, while caregiver compliance increased from 38 percent to 95 percent.

To learn more:
- read the article

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