AAMI News December 2017

AAMI Foundation Seeks Data for Ventilator Alarm Benchmarking Program

Ventilator SettingsWhen a respiratory therapist uses a mechanical ventilator, the options for how it works—and in particular, the various alarm settings—vary based on the model and the patient. Because no national standard specifies which ventilator settings should be used, respiratory therapists are on their own to figure out the settings for their equipment and patients.

It’s for this reason that the AAMI Foundation and its partners are launching a national database to collect and study ventilator alarm settings on a national scale. This benchmarking program is the first step toward analyzing and improving those settings.

“The first thing we need to know isn’t whether or not these alarms are being set correctly—it’s where people are even setting them,” said Shawna Strickland, associate executive director of the American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) and a member of the AAMI Foundation’s National Coalition for Alarm Management Safety. “The benchmarking program allows stakeholders to enter alarm settings for different machines, patient conditions, and modes. Once we start to get that data, we can look toward endeavors around outcomes. Once we start to see those outcomes and trends, then we can start recommending alarm parameters.”

After entering their own ventilator alarm data, the free online database allows respiratory therapists to examine variations in default settings from around the country. The interactive tool also includes filters based on hospital characteristics and allows users to ask questions of others in the community.

“While we talk about this as being a database, the vision is for there to also be community aspects around it,” said Rich Zink, managing director of the Regenstrief National Center for Medical Device Informatics (REMEDI) operations at Purdue University. “That includes virtual conferences where hospitals can present what they know so we can all learn from each other and having document repositories for reference information.”

The ventilator alarm database is the result of a collaboration between the AAMI Foundation, REMEDI, and AARC.

“We are all very excited about the launch of this tool that permits hospitals to share their ventilator alarm default settings,” said Marilyn Neder Flack, executive director of the AAMI Foundation. “Our hope is that this knowledge sharing will help hospitals make decisions that will reduce nonactionable ventilator alarms and improve patient safety.”

The ventilator database is now enrolling early adopters before its official launch in January. Respiratory therapists are encouraged to enter their data via catalyzecare.org/remedi.