Joint Commission Conducts Survey on Alarm Management
The Joint Commission, the nation’s largest hospital accrediting organization, wants to know how healthcare facilities manage medical device alarms in order to help find an answer to a problem that has claimed patients’ lives.
The accreditation organization posted a survey (available here) on its website on alarms safety, which has become a hot issue in healthcare in the wake of multiple reports of patients dying due to unheeded alerts. The Boston Globe, for example, last year published the results of an investigation that found at least 216 deaths nationwide linked to alarms on patient monitors. The problem, detailed in the Globe articles and other reports, is that so many medical devices have alarms going off—sometimes when the patient is not in danger—that nurses and caregivers have grown desensitized to them, a development commonly called “alarm fatigue.”
The commission survey appears to be part of a broader effort—involving the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, patient safety advocates, some industry leaders, and professional associations such as AAMI—to address the challenge.
“There are many issues associated with alarm management, including alarm parameters not customized to individual patients or environments, poor sensor maintenance, and a strong bias toward false positives rather than false negatives,” an introduction to the survey reads.
The survey, which is open until April 27, has 15 questions and should, according to the commission, take around 10 to 15 minutes to complete. It asks questions on topics such as a facility’s process for managing alarms, and problematic alert systems.
The commission says it will use the results to guide it on future actions, including the possibility of accreditation requirements related to alarms.The AAMI Foundation’s Healthcare Technology Safety Institute is also tackling this issue, building on priorities identified at the Medical Device Alarms Summit held last fall. For more information on the institute’s efforts, click here.