I’ve been meeting with nursing leaders throughout the country, discussing the various challenges they are experiencing with new technologies, clinical workflow procedures, communication breakdowns, and numerous government mandates and initiatives. Overwhelmingly, though, one problem every nursing leader struggles with is alarm management. Their nurses receive too many alarms, from too many devices, with too little actionable information to respond efficiently.
The beeps and buzzes and chimes constantly demanding nurses’ attention reminds me of the Dr. Seuss story, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” The Grinch hated Christmas, as he says:
For, tomorrow, I know all the Who girls and boys
Will wake bright and early. They’ll rush for their toys!
And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
There’s one thing I hate! All the NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!
Is this what we hear on a daily basis: noise, noise, noise, noise? We have caring nurses in need of noise reduction. They are hard-working, compassionate caregivers who strive to create a healing environment for patients and a satisfying workplace for their staff. But with more medical devices generating physiologic alarms, and numerous alerts coming from nurse call systems and the electronic medical record, caregivers feel as overwhelmed as the Grinch on Christmas morning. And when caregivers are overwhelmed, patient safety is at risk.
The Joint Commission recognizes the gravity of the alarm management problem by mandating that hospital leaders define a strategy and work plan to deal with the issue within the next year. Unfortunately, many hospitals don’t know where to begin.
That’s where our new white paper can help. If your hospital is trying to get a handle on this complex issue, see our white paper for “5 steps to successful alarm management.” Then, comment below to let me know what your hospital is doing to turn down the “noise, noise, noise, noise!”
Candace Smith, MPA, RN, NEA-BC, is Chief Nursing Officer at Voalte.