The ECRI has issued a guidebook to help hospitals address what the institute has deemed a top health technology hazard, alarm fatigue.
“The Alarm Safety Handbook: Strategies, Tools, and Guidance”–available in print and in electronic formats–is designed to help hospitals identify ways to minimize alarm fatigue, develop an action plan and put that plan into practice.
“We hope hospitals look to this as a blueprint for building a sound alarm management safety process,” James P. Keller Jr., ECRI vice president of health technology evaluation and safety, says in an announcement.
It provides guidance such as a care area assessment checklist, a nursing staff survey and an alarm review tool. It offers best practices and points to successful projects at Boston Medical Center and The Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Boston Medical Center was able to reduce audible alarms in its cardiac unit by 89 percent, with no adverse events, through a number of measures, including differentiating between “warning” alarms that do not require a nurse response to “crisis” and alarms that do.
Alarm fatigue has made the ECRI Institute’s annual list of Top 10 health technology hazards for several years and led hospitals’ most-cited hazard in a national survey presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Technology in Anesthesia.
The Joint Commission made the issue a national patient safety goal, with a strategy to address it in two parts. The first phase began this year and aims to heighten awareness of the potential risks associated with clinical alarms, such as cardiac monitors, IV machines and ventilators. The second phase, to begin Jan. 1, 2016, introduces requirements to mitigate those risks.