Mary Logan: Help Tackle an ‘Alarming’ Problem

March 28, 2012

Alarms, The President's Corner

Attendees at last October’s AAMI-FDA Summit on alarm safety (co-convened with the ECRI Institute, ACCE, and The Joint Commission) contributed tips and lessons learned that led to this list of “Top 10 Actions You can Take Now” in your healthcare organization. They’re also printed (in more detail) in the post-alarm summit publication, which is available for free here: http://www.aami.org/hottopics/alarms/AAMI/2011_Alarms_Summit_publication.pdf. If you haven’t shared this publication with your clinical and patient safety colleagues, do it now and be a proactive hero by suggesting a joint project to tackle these issues. For example, have you considered #7 and #8? Just those two items are a great place to start. And be sure to share your projects and lessons learned with your colleagues here.

  1. Gain cross-disciplinary leadership support.
  2. Establish a cross-functional team with clinical leadership to address alarm fatigue across all environments of care.
  3. Re-establish priorities: Process should drive technology adoption rather than allowing technology to drive the process.
  4. Develop a continuous improvement process for constantly optimizing alarm system policies and configurations.
  5. Conduct clinical testing and analyze alarm data to implement alarm limits and delays and to reduce clinically non-actionable alarm conditions.
  6. Test acoustics on clinical floors: Environmental noise impacts patient and staff well-being and patient safety.
  7. Implement an alarm system configuration policy based on clinical evidence.
  8. Change single-use sensors more frequently to reduce nuisance alarm conditions (except in pediatric units).
  9. Mandate alarm system training for all clinical operators.
  10. Share experiences so everyone can benefit from your efforts in a cross-disciplinary way.

Mary Logan

AAMI President

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