Alarm Fatigue – The White Noise in Healthcare

Spend time in the patient-care areas of any hospital or clinic and you’ll hear it: a near-constant stream of beeps coming from the audible alarms on medical equipment and healthcare devices.

Spend enough time in patient-care areas and you might not hear the beeping at all…not because it stopped, but because your ears became immune and all those alarms faded into white noise.

Estimates show 85-95% of all alarms in a healthcare environment don’t require intervention. But as nurses’ and other caregivers’ ears become desensitized – a phenomenon known as alarm fatigue – patients’ lives could be put at risk. Assuming all alarms are false alarms can create a dangerous delay in response. But responding to every alarm that sounds diverts a caregiver’s attention from true medical emergencies. [Read more…]