Tim Vanderveen: Medical Device Alarms and Hospital Noise

Dr. Pauline Chen’s blog post in The New York Times titled “The Clatter of the Hospital Room”  http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/02/the-clatter-of-the-hospital-room/  has generated  very interesting comments, more than 200 the last time I looked. The comments provide perspectives from both patients and caregivers. What I found most interesting was the lack of comments about medical device “noise.” Former patients consistently commented on noise attributed to staff, other patients, visitors, and constant interruption for tests, vital signs, etc. Having had an hour-long discussion on medical device alarms with Dr. Chen as she was preparing her article, I expected her to focus more on monitoring and infusion alarms as a source of patient dissatisfaction. If you have a chance, take a look at the comments. Device alarms are part of the problem, but hospital noise is a much larger issue. Maybe we need a national steering committee on improving the patient experience?

 Tim Vanderveen is vice president of The Center for Safety and Clinical Excellence at CareFusion.

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