Date of Completion
alarm fatigue, intensive care unit, evidence based practice, clinical alarms, Synergy
Dr. Paula S. McCauley, DNP
Dr. Joy Elwell, DNP
Dr. Jaclyn Cox, DO
Field of Study
Doctor of Nursing Practice
A phenomenon called alarm fatigue has been identified as an outcome of nearly 40 different alarms that sound at any given time in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) (Borowski et al., 2011). Alarm fatigue can result in impaired recognition of worsening patient conditions and has been implicated in fatal patient events (Kowalczyk, 2010; Altimari, 2017).
A quality improvement research study (QIRS) was conducted, aimed at reducing total alarms including noncritical (clinically irrelevant) and false alarms that contribute to the incidence of alarm fatigue and the potential for unsafe conditions. The project included exploration of the critical care nurse’s attitudes toward alarms, review of the existing evidence based practice policy on clinical alarm management and introduction of a new bedside alarm parameter verification called an “Alarm Check”. Measurements included: alarm rates collected pre and postinitiation of the educational sessions, as well as administration of the Healthcare Technology Foundation’s Alarm Survey.
There was a statistically significant decrease in alarm frequency rates after the intervention. Secondly there were statistically significant decrease in noncritical alarm frequencies, but not false alarm rates. There was, however a decrease in the number of false alarms suggesting a clinical significance. These evidence based interventions suggest simple yet effective ways at reducing alarm frequencies and therefore the incidence of potential alarm fatigue.
Speich, Megan E., "Reducing Alarm Fatigue in the Intensive Care Unit: A Quality Improvement Research Study" (2017). Doctoral Dissertations. 1449.