How Alarm Fatigue Puts Patients in Danger

Hospital call button being pressed by patientIn a limited study, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that an average of 190 alarms go off each day in a hospital. Not all of these will be what the study calls “true alarms,” but medical staff must respond to these regardless. If they tune an alarm out, or cannot hear it because they turned down the volume, and fail to respond, alarm fatigue may occur—which can result in serious consequences for the patient.

What Is Alarm Fatigue?

Because so many alarms occur every day, some medical staff become desensitized to the noise created by these alarms—which can blend in with the rest of the sounds in a hospital, like voices and telephone ringers. This is known as alarm fatigue, and its aftermath can lead to medical malpractice lawsuits. Common sounds a doctor may tune out as background noise include:

  • Heart monitors
  • Patient call buttons
  • Breathing monitors

Why Does Alarm Fatigue Happen?

Medical malpractice related to alarm fatigue may be linked to many causes. Not only do medical professionals tune out the noise, they also become tired of the noise and may:

  • Turn off certain alert noises
  • Power off certain monitors
  • Turn down the volume on certain alarms
  • Fail to reset a monitor after a faulty alert
  • Fail to respond in a timely manner after repeated false alerts

The Effects of Alarm Fatigue

Even though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has attempted to improve the way alarms interact with each other, how healthcare workers respond to alerts, and reduce the number of alarms in general in recent years, alarm fatigue is still a growing concern and can result in patients suffering brain damage and even death.

When You Need Real Assistance

If you lost a loved one or were harmed because a healthcare provider failed to respond to an alarm, you may be eligible for compensation for pain and suffering, medical costs, and lost wages. We can answer your questions and help you build a case. To speak with the experienced team at Tavss Fletcher, fill out the online contact form on our website today.

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