Alarm fatigue

Alarm technology is a system that has been designed for a broad range of purpose. Alarms are very useful in our day to day life as many institutions, organizations, hospitals, schools, and homes depend on alarm systems for various purposes. Alarms are used for security measures to detect unauthorized entries. They can also be used in cars to protect vehicles. Prisons have also developed the system to control inmates. Some alarm systems are designed to serve specific purposes like burglary protection, fire, and detect intrusion. However, this paper will discuss how alarm technology has been used in hospital settings, how active the alarm system has proven to be and some of the infectiveness that has been experienced by use of alarms.

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The topic of alarm technology is relevant because it has helped achieve many goals. Alarm systems have proven to be effective in most settings according to the expectations of where they are applicable (Graham & Cvach, 2010). They have been used in nursing and informatics for a long time because they fit many procedures carried out by the nurses in hospital settings. Alarms have also been used to serve many purposes in hospitals; therefore, their advantages have been more noticed that their shortcomings. Some research has been carried out on how alarm technology fits in with nursing and informatics. There have been shortcomings including alarm fatigues; however, the advantages are rather many compared to the shortcomings.

The issue on alarm fatigue has been a growing concern when it comes to the priority of patient safety in healthcare. Solving the issues of alarm fatigue requires a standard and precise understanding of the technology to help in coming up with effective policies and strategies (Cvach, 2012). Such systems can contribute to the eradication of this multi-dimensional aspect addressing alarm fatigue phenomena that are affecting a broad range of a nursing practice arena. The alarm fatigue concepts should be examined by basing on methods that identify the consequences, attributes, and antecedents of alarm fatigues.

A number of research on hospitals has indicated that many background noises and at times disruptive sounds that echo are likely to cause a lot of problems within the hospital settings. Many of these sounds are a blend of mechanical and human sounds and are heard by staff, patients, and families within the hospital environment. Over the years there have been technological advancements. Such improvements have led to the development of multiple medical device systems that has been so efficient in monitoring patients in case of potential problems that they might develop when the nurses are not around (Welch, 2011). However, these devices including alarms have contributed to the noise in hospital environments.

Unfortunately, the increasing number of patients in the hospitals require medical technology monitoring. However, the monitoring of patients has increased the alarm sounds echoing within the hospital area. This has subjected nurses to too many alarms, therefore, leading to the issue of concern known as alarm fatigues. Alarm fatigues have been defined as the desensitization of clinician to the stimulus of warning resulting from a person’s sensory overload, thus, causing a delay in response to alarms.

Alarm fatigues have been acknowledged as an example of a contributor to destruction under clinical environments. Alarm fatigue has interfered with the ability of clinicians to perform critical patient care thus resulting in issues on patient safety. Alarm management is one of the issues that have emerged as an increasing concern that can be noted in healthcare. Currently, the effects of alarm fatigue have been a focus of National Patient Safety Goal. The Joint Commission has reported many cases of alarm-related sentinel events. Some of these cases were death caused by alarm fatigue while others were permanent loss of function. Additionally, most of these incidents were as a result of signal misuse, alarm malfunction, while others were related to low alarm settings which were the primary factors that contributed to alarm fatigue.

Most cases of false alarms have been related to some conditions, although, the most common causes involved are related to parameter settings of hospital alarms. Other reasons have been due to lack of adjustment of alarms that covers a particular group of patients. The occurrence of loud alarm noises has destructed the attention of nurses, therefore, leading to reduced responses to alarm signals (Sendelbach & Funk, 2013). The issues on alarm fatigues are a growing problem that should be addressed in a healthcare environment. There is a need for a clear understanding of the alarm concept to help in the articulation of alarm fatigue dimensions in the practice arena.

Alarm fatigue is a growing concern in the clinical environments. However, the use of signals has impacted positively on patient care. To some extent, one can tell that regardless of the numerous adverse effects caused by alarm fatigue, alarm technology has been very helpful in nursing, Clinicians have been able to monitor their patients keenly. Alarms have worked as reminders in reminding care givers on which patients need medical attention and what should be done at what time. Alarm technology has advanced, and when alarms are given appropriate settings, they can show patients under distress and those who need intensive care. Such attributes achieved by use of alarms have positively impacted services offered by nurses (Sendelbach, 2012). Their work has been more defined, and they find it easy taking care of their patients.

Alarm technology has been very useful in most cases, regardless, of the adverse effects caused by alarm fatigues. Alarm technology requires further advancement for a positive future implication. Further improvements may help lower the cases of alarm fatigue that is a major problem in nursing. There should be a new make of alarms that are easier to set to prevent alarms from going off unexpectedly. The appropriate application of this technology can have more positive impacts in nursing because nurses need something that can alert them and help them monitor patients effectively.

As a staff, a leader, informatics, patient, or healthcare provider, I would say alarm fatigue is a major issue of concern in a hospital setting; therefore, the number of alarms used should be controlled (Solet & Barach, 2012). Alarms should only cover areas of high interest like the ICU and emergency rooms. I would recommend that every hospital staff be involved in discussions on how to come up with new measures that can help control the rate at which alarms are going off. There should be a schedule or manner that should be followed.

In conclusion, the research on alarms has been of great essence. Alarm fatigue has been identified as a major issue in many hospital settings. As discussed, Alarm technology has many advantages compared to the disadvantages. Finally, this paper may help in identifying relevant areas and cases of alarm fatigue and the impact it has in hospitals. Ways of minimizing the issues relating to alarm fatigue should be identified and implemented.



Cvach, M. (2012). Monitor alarm fatigue: an integrative review. Biomedical instrumentation & technology, 46(4), 268-277.

Graham, K. C., & Cvach, M. (2010). Monitor alarm fatigue: standardizing use of physiological monitors and decreasing nuisance alarms. American Journal of Critical Care, 19(1), 28-34.

Sendelbach, S. (2012). Alarm fatigue. Nursing Clinics of North America, 47(3), 375-382.

Sendelbach, S., & Funk, M. (2013). Alarm fatigue: a patient safety concern. AACN advanced critical care, 24(4), 378-386.

Solet, J. M., & Barach, P. R. (2012). Managing alarm fatigue in cardiac care. Progress in Pediatric Cardiology, 33(1), 85-90.

Welch, J. (2011). An evidence-based approach to reduce nuisance alarms and alarm fatigue. Biomedical Instrumentation & Technology, 45(s1), 46-52.