BI&T January/February 2020

The deeply rooted, difficult-to-solve nature of the clinical alarm problem is evidenced by its long-running appearance on the ECRI Institute’s annual list of the Top 10 Health Technology Hazards. The Joint Commission also has emphasized the urgency of medical device alarm safety via the publication of a Sentinel Event Alert and a National Patient Safety Goal on alarm management. Improving alarm management requires careful scrutiny of alarm limits and configuring alarms for specific units, rather than relying on defaults set by manufacturers. A multifaceted approach is needed—one that involves bridging the gaps between the clinical side and technical aspects of alarms. Educating nurses and other clinicians is critical, but equally important is doing everything possible to minimize alarms that lack clinical relevance—a solution in which healthcare technology management plays a pivotal role.

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