Alarm Fatigue

“Alarms in Emergency Rooms Rarely Important, Which Can Desensitize Staff”       

Ya think?  It never ceases to amaze me how people design things for us with no understanding of our working conditions. Sometimes it seems they got their idea of how medical care is done by watching TV shows.  And it shouldn’t but it still does amaze me that our overlords just don’t give a hoot.  Surely someone must have told them about alarm fatigue once or twice in the past few decades.   

                                                                                                                                 Sometimes you just have to do a study to persuade people about obvious reality, so someone did and good for them.  Now we know just how bad it is.   

During a total of 53 hours, 1049 alarms went off, associated with 146 patients. Alarms changed the clinical management of a patient just eight times, or 0.8% of the time. ER staff did not respond to 63% of the alarms.”                                                                                         And the worst part is that many of these monitors could be set for the patient’s condition. If they come in with a heart rate of 130, you set it to let you know if it’s over 150 or whatever.  But the overlords in some hospitals won’t allow it to be adjusted!       

No, no staff ever have to be able to hear themselves think, and patients never need to relax. And there’s no such thing as being hypersensitive to sound, though there’s plenty of peaceful shoppers at my local grocery store during the hour they dim the lights, make no announcements, and turn off or diminish the sounds of all the machines.                                                                                                                

And we sure don’t need a noise that can break through the cacophony to tell us when a patient really needs attention, now do we?                                                       

Is there an IQ limit for overlords?

Get our awesome newsletter by signing up here. We don’t give your email out and we don’t spam you.

Bridget Reidy MD

Bridget Reidy is an FP practicing near Victoria, British Columbia who abhors hypocrisy, waste, euphemisms, and useless bureaucrats, ie inauthentic medicine. She was a board certified FP with a certificate of additional qualifications in palliaitive care, no longer because, MOC. She did her residency in rural Marquette Michigan in the eighties, and spent her career mostly in the US in a variety of settings, emergency, urgent care, family practice - including locums on reservations, prisons and medicaid mills, and housecall practice - including work as a hospice medical director. Now she owns and runs a solo cottage industry style family practice, typical of Canadain FP's. She is on the advisory board of The Medical Post, Canada's newsletter for physicians, and a member of BC GP's for reform. 

  3 comments for “Alarm Fatigue

  1. LJSlossMD
    September 7, 2019 at 11:16 am

    Healthcare administration follows an obsolete feudal model:

    Overlords make the rules but do not have to live by them
    Administrators enforce the rules on a voiceless peasantry and are rewarded by the Overlords based on fealty
    Peasants labor driven by fear and are rewarded for obedience and banished for dissent
    Livestock are treated as objects to be exploited or slaughtered

    Vermin do just fine in an vermin-optimized ecosystem

  2. Steve O'
    September 7, 2019 at 9:16 am

    You’re making a fundamental error. Alarms are not to benefit patients or medical personnel providing care to a patient. Alarms are creatures of the bureaucracy, to translate a change in a patient’s condition, to a litigable cause for plaintiff’s attorneys, and to deflect responsibility from the ER ownership onto the hired meat.
    “Yes, the patient had a heart rate of 180. Yes the alarm went off. No, the staff did not respond for 10 minutes. Yes, the alarm could be heard throughout. Mr. Gufferson went into Afib, and had a stroke and died, sealing his fate at the age of 85. Yes, his grandchildren suffered mental anguish, except for Billy who was partying that night and didn’t know about it for three days.”
    They condense the assignation of substandard practice to a number. Mr. Gufferson might merrily go in and out of Afib and is not on anticoagulants due to his advanced age. That is a medical issue that develops between and elderly patient and his outpatient (medical biped.) But the alarms, set by the stupidly clever in the “C suite” dump all litigation onto the medical biped(s). That way, they can sleep soundly with their wife, girlfriend or both, while the shocking examples of neglect happen in their ER.

  3. celia Entwistle MD
    September 6, 2019 at 8:32 pm

    There is a 2 digit limit on IQ for admin. This includes the people who schedule all IT providers and ultrasound techs during the day.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Protected with IP Blacklist CloudIP Blacklist Cloud