Image of alarm warning on monitorIn a May 4 webinar, several opioid safety experts identified two important strategies for reducing alarm fatigue: Improving the training of clinicians and customizing the default settings on alarms used to monitor patients.

Hosted by the Premier Safety Institute as part of its Advisor Live series, the webinar featured Gina Pugliese, RN, of the Premier Safety Institute; Bhavani Kodali, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Harold Oglesby, RRT, of St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System;  Joan Speigel, MD, of  Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; and Michael Wong, JD, of the Physician-Patient Alliance for Health and Safety (PPAHS).

These speakers discussed ways to lower incidences of alarm fatigue—described as a “frequent and persistent problem” among hospitals in a Sentinel Event Alert issued by the Joint Commission and listed in the ECRI Institute’s “Top 10 Health Technology Hazards Report for 2014.”

“As anesthesiologists, we’re saturated with devices and machinery in the operating room, and our minds are trained to hear certain alarms and not others,” Joan Speigel said. “So you have the problem of over-reaction to certain alarms and under-reaction to others.” She added that for hospitals to overcome this problem, “Certainly, it requires a lot of training.”

A critical point about alarm fatigue is that “no standard alarm is good for two patients,” Bhavani Kodali said, adding that hospitals that rely on default alarm settings are creating an environment for alarm fatigue to occur.

A transcript of key points from the webcast is available on the PPAHS website.