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Alarm fatigue - the desensitizing of staff due to alarms - is all too common in hospitals.

“We in healthcare have created the perfect storm with all of these monitoring devices,” says Maria Cvach, RN, assistant director of nursing and clinical standards.

"In hospitals today, we have too many alarming devices. The alarm parameters are not set to actionable levels, and the alarm thresholds are set too tight. Monitor alarm systems are very sensitive and unlikely to miss a true event; however, this results in too many false positives. We have moved to large clinical units with unclear alarm system accountability; private rooms with doors closed that make it hard to hear alarms signals; and duplicate alarm conditions which desensitize staff.”

What Hopkins Is Doing About Alarm Fatigue

Starting in 2006, The Johns Hopkins Hospital has taken on several major initiatives to reduce hazardous situations related to alarm systems.

By relying on data to determine baseline alarm priority levels and then evaluating the effectiveness of improvement efforts, the alarm improvement effort greatly reduced noise in monitored units, made clinicians more attentive to the alarm signals that do sound, and worked to optimize both technology and workflow at every step in the process.

Improvements at The Johns Hopkins Hospital

Since the alarm improvement efforts began in 2006, The Johns Hopkins Hospital has seen:

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