With the Joint Commission moving to improve the safety of hospital clinical alarm systems, patient safety organization ECRI Institute has unveiled a service to aid hospitals in evaluating and modifying their alarm management processes.

Such modifications, along with re-examining a hospital’s culture and the way clinicians communicate about alarms, can cut nuisance alarms in half, which also reduces alarm fatigue and improves safety, according to ECRI. The organization ranks alarm hazards as the top concern on its 2014 Top 10 Health Technology Hazards List.

The Joint Commission in April 2013 issued a Sentinel Event alert to hospitals, imploring them to take a focused look at the serious risk caused by alarm fatigue from medical devices. On Dec. 11, the Commission released a report explaining a new national patient safety goal in 2014 for hospitals to improve alarm safety.

In explaining its new alarm safety reviews, ECRI notes, “We consider many factors, including your facility’s current culture, practices, technology, patient population and clinical needs, staffing patterns, care models, architectural layout, alarm coverage model (e.g., monitor watch, alarm integration system), communication, alarm escalation schemes, protocols and policies, and education.” More information is available here.

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