Alarm setting for the critically ill patient: a descriptive pilot survey of nurses’ perceptions of current practice in an Australian Regional Critical Care Unit
Christensen, M, Dodds, A, Sauer, J & Watts, N 2014, 'Alarm setting for the critically ill patient: a descriptive pilot survey of nurses’ perceptions of current practice in an Australian Regional Critical Care Unit', Intensive and Critical Care Nursing, vol. 30, no. 4, pp. 204-210.
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Aim: The aim of this survey was to assess registered nurse’s perceptions of alarm setting and management in an Australian Regional Critical Care Unit. Background: The setting and management of alarms within the critical care environment is one of the key responsibilities of the nurse in this area. However, with up to 99% of alarms potentially being false-positives it is easy for the nurse to become desensitised or fatigued by incessant alarms; in some cases up to 400 per patient per day. Inadvertently ignoring, silencing or disabling alarms can have deleterious implications for the patient and nurse. Method: A total population sample of 48 nursing staff from a 13 bedded ICU/HDU/CCU within regional Australia were asked to participate. A 10 item open-ended and multiple choice questionnaire was distributed to determine their perceptions and attitudes of alarm setting and management within this clinical area. Results: Two key themes were identified from the open-ended questions: attitudes towards inappropriate alarm settings and annoyance at delayed responses to alarms. A significant number of respondents (93%) agreed that alarm fatigue can result in alarm desensitisation and the disabling of alarms, whilst 81% suggested the key factors are those associated with false-positive alarms and inappropriately set alarms.