Alarm Fatigue? What a Nuisance!

Alarm Fatigue

“Hospital staff are exposed to an average of 350 alarms per bed per day, based on a sample from an intensive care unit at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.”[1]

From the same survey, almost 9 in 10 hospitals indicated they would increase their use of patient monitoring, particularly of Capnography and pulse oximetry, if false alarms could be reduced. [2]

“Of those hospitals surveyed that monitor some or all patients with pulse oximetry or Capnography, more than 65 percent have experienced positive results in terms of either a reduction in overall adverse events or in reduction of costs.”[3]

Attenuating Alarm Signals

The problem with attenuating alarm data is achieving the balance between communicating the essential, patient-safety specific information that will provide proper notification to clinical staff while minimizing the excess, spurious and non-emergent events that are not indicative of a threat to patient safety. In the absence of contextual information, the option is usually to err on the side of excess because the risk of missing an emergent alarm or notification carries with it the potential for high cost (e.g.: patient harm or death).

Analysis

The purpose of this study is to look at the and some of the Mathematical Techniques for Mitigating Alarm Fatigue: techniques and options available for evaluating real-time data. The objective is to suggest a dialog for further research and investigation into the use of such techniques as appropriate. Clearly, patient safety, regulatory, staff fatigue and other factors must be taken into account in terms of aligning on a best approach or practice (if one can even be identified). These aspects of alarm fatigue are intentionally omitted from the discussion at this point (to be taken up at another time) so that a pure study of the physics of the parameter data and techniques for analyzing can be explored.

References

[1] Ilene MacDonald, “Hospitals rank alarm fatigue as top patient safety concern”, Fierce Healthcare. January 22, 2014.

[2] Wong, Michael; Mabuyi, Anuj; Gonzalez, Beverly; “First National Survey of Patient-Controlled Analgesia Practices.” March-April 2013, A Promise to Amanda Foundation and the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health & Safety.

[3] Ibid.

 

Author: johnrzaleski_eqbr0v

John R. Zaleski, PhD, CAP, CPHIMS, is Chief Analytics Officer of Bernoulli, a leader in real-time connected healthcare. Dr. Zaleski brings 21 years of experience in researching and ushering to market devices and products to improve healthcare. He received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, with a dissertation that describes a novel approach for modeling and prediction of post-operative respiratory behavior in post-surgical cardiac patients. Dr. Zaleski has a particular expertise in designing, developing, and implementing clinical and non-clinical point-of-care applications for hospital enterprises. Dr. Zaleski is the named inventor or co-inventor on seven issued patents related to medical device interoperability. He is the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles on clinical use of medical device data, information technology and medical devices and wrote three seminal books on integrating medical device data into electronic health records and the use of medical device data for clinical decision making, including the #1 best seller of HIMSS 2015 on connected medical devices.

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