All clinical alarms require nurses to respond even if an intervention is not needed. Nurses are expected to respond appropriately to each alarm and establish priorities among their care practices accordingly. This study was conducted to examine the number and types of clinical device alarms used in intensive care units, the duration of their activation, and nurses’ degree of sensitivity to them.
This observational study was conducted in 4 intensive care units in a university hospital in Turkey. A total of 20 nurses (5 from each unit) were observed for a total of 80 hours. The alarms were categorized as valid, false, or technical.
During the study observation period, the mean number of alarms sounding per hour per bed was 1.8. A total of 144 alarms were recorded, of which 70.8% were valid, 15.3% were false, and 13.9% were technical. The mean duration of alarm activation was 8 minutes for valid alarms, 14 minutes for false alarms, and 53 minutes for technical alarms.
Nurses’ responses to alarms differ depending on alarm type; for alarms that do not require an emergency intervention, nurses tend to respond late or not at all.