Alarm Fatigue Alarm fatigue is a growing national problem within the health care industry that links medical technology as a serious hazard that poses a significant threat to patient safety within hospitals across the country. Alarm fatigue occurs when nurses encounter an overwhelming amount of alarms thus becoming desensitized to the firing alarms. Alarm desensitization is a multifaceted issue that is related to the number of alarming medical devices, a high false alarm rate, and the lack of alarm standardization in hospitals today (Cvach, 2012). Desensitization can lead to delayed response times, alarms silenced or turned off, or alarms adjusted to unsafe limits, which can create a dangerous situation for the patient. Alarm fatigue
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Synthesis of the Evidence In response to a substantial amount of reports of adverse events that have lead to deaths and cases of permanent loss of function, “The Joint Commission published a sentinel event alert on medical device alarm safety in hospitals” (as cited in Rice Simpson, 2013, p. 397). According to an evidenced-based practice study conducted by The John Hopkins Hospital that focused on “five major themes: excessive alarms and effects on staff, nurses response to alarms, alarm sounds and audibility, technology to reduce false alarms, and alarm notification systems” (Cvach, 2012). The findings of the research indicated that excessive false alarms contribute to caregiver desensitization, mistrust, and lack of response, as a nurse’s workload increases, alarm response and task performance deteriorates, and many alarms sounds are difficult to identify and cannot be discriminated when there is task overload on the nurse’s part (Cvach, 2012).
Many hospitals across the country are being confronted with this growing problem that has gained national attention due to adverse events. The Joint Commission found “over 80% alarm related events resulted in deaths and the main contributing factors were due to: (a) alarm signals inappropriately turned off, (b) absent or inadequate alarm system, (c) alarm signals not audible in all areas, and (d) improper alarm settings” (as cited in Ulrich, 2013, p. 293). The Joint