When it comes to a natural disaster like a hurricane, sound alarm management notifies people in time should they need to evacuate a high-risk area. Similarly, clinical alarm management refers to how a healthcare team responds to unfavorable changes in a patient’s condition. A good patient outcome requires striking a balance between over-responding to situations that don’t need any response beyond monitoring the patient and under-responding to situations that require further attention.
The trigger for initiating a clinical alarm protocol can be either human, such as a nurse noticing a patient in distress, or technological, such as a change in a patient’s heart rate captured and relayed. Good clinical alarm management requires a cohesive and flexible plan that accounts for many possibilities. A commonly used tool is alarm management software.
Clinical alarms are far from perfect. Numerous reports have documented cognitive overload from the combination of alarms, alerts, and notifications from multiple devices. ECRI Institute listed alarm, alert, and notification overload as the sixth Health Technology Hazard for 2020 . Proper alarm management is essential, especially when it comes to improving the patient experience and reducing :
In a hospital setting, alarms may result from multiple patients. When a nurse becomes confronted with alarm after alarm, it can be challenging to know which patient needs assistance straight away. Similarly, in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), alarms are more common than not amongst these fragile patients, so nurses in this environment need to pay close attention to those alarms . We must be careful, though, because more alarms don’t always translate to better care. Overuse of medical alarms can lead to the widely recognized problem of alarm fatigue .
The main problems associated with poor clinical alarm management include:
Reduce Nurse Interruptions: Intelligently Managing Alerts & Alarms
How Intelligently Managing Alerts Improves Nurse Retention, Workflows, and Patient Safety
A nurse’s day is repeatedly interrupted by alarm after alarm. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and fail to recognize an alarm as requiring action by a nurse. This major industry-wide challenge doesn’t result from a lack of training but is usually due to the overuse of alarms in a clinical setting. Every change in a patient’s condition comes with a different set of alarm functions, which may or may not be relevant to a nurse’s job.
Nurses are overwhelmed by the sheer number of alarms interrupting their workflow. Despite a comprehensive background in patient management and regular refresher training, the problem of alarm fatigue persists.
In addition to impacting clinical workflow, there are several negative consequences for patients relating to alarm fatigue [9, 10]:
Providers who miss alarms due to alarm fatigue suffer from guilt, self-blame, and even post-traumatic stress disorder . More and more, nurses are overwhelmed with alarm fatigue, thereby impacting their ability to care for their patients.
Alarm fatigue is a significant issue for healthcare workers. It can lead to worse outcomes and preventable health problems for the patient. One solution for reducing alarm fatigue is using a modern clinical communication tool. Other ways of eliminating alarm fatigue in healthcare providers include:
The response to clinical alarms is complex, so your system for clinical alarm management must include room for flexibility and changes. The ability to redirect alarms to another caregiver, reduce alarm frequency, and integrate with various medical devices and cell phones is essential.
Does your clinical alarm management solution effectively help reduce alarm fatigue and improve overall patient care? There are several elements to look for in a reliable alarm management system, which include:
An effective alarm management program improves patient care, saves time and money, reduces alarm fatigue, and uses technology to improve the quality of life for healthcare providers. Decreased alarm fatigue means nurses can more effectively care for their patients. TigerConnect’s clinical alarm management software accomplishes all of these goals and more. Our software includes integration with hospital bed monitors, physiological monitors, and alerts for critical labs. Check out our on-demand webinar, Reduce Nurse Interruptions: Intelligently Managing Alerts & Alarms today to learn more.