According to The Joint Commission, alarm fatigue occurs when clinicians become desensitized or immune to the sound of an alarm. Fatigued clinicians may:
- Turn down alarm volume
- Turn off alarm
- Adjust alarm settings.
Any of these actions may jeopardize patient safety. A tragic example of alarm fatigue is 17-year old Mariah Edwards, who following successful removal of her tonsils, died after nurses muted the sound on the monitors that were in place to alert caregivers of deterioration of her physical condition following opioid administration. To address this issue of alarm fatigue, some of the initiatives PPAHS has engaged in include:
- Tips and Recommendations: Illustrating best practices and recommendations of health experts, including:
- Maria Cvach, MS, RN, CCRN (assistant director of nursing, clinical standards, The Johns Hopkins Hospital)
- Cathy Carlson, PhD, RN (associate professor, Northern Illinois University School of Nursing & Health Studies)
- Paul M. Schyve, M.D. (Senior Advisor, Healthcare Improvement, The Joint Commission)
- Robert Stoelting, M.D. (President, Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation)
- Standards: Advocating for the adoption of standards and procedures to reduce the incidence of false alarms by The Joint Commission and ECRI Institute.
In accordance with the need urgently expressed by The Joint Commission in its Sentinel Event Alert #50, PPAHS will continue to assist in raising awareness about the dangers of alarm fatigue and prompting health experts to take appropriate actions to ameliorate this issue.