It is standard practice within an intensive care, progressive care, or telemetry unit to rely on physiologic monitor alarms to alert the nurse or other care providers when limits are exceeded or certain dysrhythmias occur. Given the sheer number of potential alarms on equipment within the clinical environment, there is a high risk of nurses becoming desensitized to the sound of patient alarms. Additionally, alarms may be disabled, silenced, or ignored. These practices create a patient safety concern. As Graham and Cvach note, “Physiologic monitors are only as reliable as the clinicians who use them.”1 

  • Assess the incidence of nuisance or false positive alarms within your unit environment.

  • Ensure that nurses have consistent training and know how to use their monitoring systems.

  • Develop a unit (or hospital) policy regarding appropriate parameters for setting alarms that are tailored to a patient’s specific needs....

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