A team-based approach to reducing cardiac monitor alarms.
Improving alarm systems to mitigate the risks of alarm fatigue was added as a National Patient Safety Goal in the 2014 update. This study introduced a multifaceted cardiac monitor care process on a pediatric bone marrow transplant unit. The program included standardized steps for ordering and reassessing cardiac monitor parameters. In addition, physicians and nurses used a log to document the need for ongoing cardiac monitoring and created reliable systems for discontinuation of monitoring when it was no longer needed. Patients and families were actively engaged in these activities, helping sustain the program. As compliance with the process improved from 38% to 95%, the number of alarms per patient-day plummeted from 180 to 40. The hope is that reducing unnecessary alerts will address clinician desensitization to clinically important alarms.