Alarm Fatigue in Nursing: How Custom Sensors Can Save Lives
How Custom Sensors Can Save Lives
Nurses work tireless hours around the clock caring for patients, monitoring vitals and assisting doctors with doing the important job of keeping people alive. They are also up against a number of workplace hazards. From medical waste to patient contact, and even desensitization – there are many reasons for nurses to be cautious while on the job.
What is Alarm Fatigue?
One such issue, alarm fatigue, is a very real problem in the industry needing immediate attention. This occurs when important medical staff, in particular nurses, become so desensitized to the noises going off all day in their environment that they actually fail to react promptly or at all to important beeps and alerts.
In other instances, the alarms – which typically are going off several hundred times a day- will randomly fail, and if that happens in an instance where a heart attack or other major medical event is occurring, the end result can be deadly.
Why Nurses are at Risk
This is further compounded by the fact that many of the telemetry monitoring devices sending wireless alarms to a central nurses station are so sensitive they go off throughout the day even for “false alarms” like a cough, low battery, or sudden movement. Over time, nurses start to “tune out” sounds they are familiar with or that might not be “important” at the moment.
In fact, according to research, 72 percent to 99 percent of clinical alarms are false. However, patients requiring immediate medical assistance left to wait for a response from a nurse due to any of the above-described scenarios can lead to penalties, fines and worse.
An NPR interview with reporter Liz Kowalczyk, who wrote a series on this topic for the Boston Globe, says most nurses acknowledge the issue is something that needs to be addressed and recommends that monitors and systems used in the medical setting be improved upon and developed to deliver less false alarms and more accurate notifications for staff.
Sensors Offer a Solution
That’s where we come in. At SMD Sensors we build customized, reliable sensors that operate within set parameters to provide critical details in the right format, at the right time.
Sensors play a key role in the safe operation of any medical device. Our engineering and design team will work with you to get a full understanding of your device and ensure that every possible failure mode has been considered, including those that could cause the false positives that contribute to alarm fatigue.
Using our proprietary bubble generation system, we can calibrate each of our bubble sensors to a specific customer-defined bubble size range. Not only are they guaranteed to alarm when a specific large bubble size passes through them, but we can also ensure that no small “nuisance bubbles” that would be considered false alarms are detected. For example, a common calibration on our A240 Bubble Sensor is to always detect bubbles 2 microliters or larger and always ignore bubbles 1 microliter and smaller.
Further, our custom occlusion sensors or noninvasive pressure sensors are used to detect occluded tubing that can lead to a dangerous situation for the patient. Using miniature load cells for occlusion detection is superior to ultrasonic occlusion detection because it significantly reduces the false alarms associated with micro bubbles in the tubing. SMD Sensors can work with you to characterize your pump and tubing system to better separate false alarms from dangerous occlusion events.
Are you ready to build a medical device that’s advanced and delivers hospitals and medical professionals the accuracy and peace of mind they need in their workplace?
Don’t leave patients or the business at risk when sensors offer a solution.