Assessment of Clinical Alarms Influencing Nurses' Perceptions of Alarm Fatigue

Emalie M. Petersen, Cindy L. Costanzo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background: Excessive clinical alarms have inundated health care for years. Multiple governing bodies, organizations, and facilities have deemed alarm management a priority. Alarm management is a multifaceted problem that affects all health care organizations and clinical staff, especially those in critical care units. Ultimately, the lack of knowledge regarding nurses' perceptions to alarm management and alarm fatigue creates patient safety chiasms. Objectives: The purpose of this quality improvement project was to understand nurses' perceptions of alarm fatigue (utilizing the Healthcare Technology Foundation's Clinical Alarms Committee Survey) while implementing interventions that improve patient safety. Methods: The design of this qualitative study is an electronically distributed survey to 31 nurses who work in critical care. The Healthcare Technology Foundation clinical alarms survey has 36 questions with various answering strategies distributed (with permission) via e-mail access by BlueQ through Creighton University. Results: Twenty-six respondents (n = 26) completed the survey, with 42% being intensive care unit nurses and 58% being progressive care unit nurses. The majority of nurses (n = 23, 88%) agreed that nuisance alarms occur frequently and disrupt patient care (n = 25, 96%). A lack of standardized method was noted to alarm management and parameter changes. Multiple patterns emerged that initiated the need for further examination and improvement. Discussion: Following the survey, themes emerged, and changes were implemented including the following: an alarm management policy was created, tools were provided to staff for easy usage, staff were educated using hands-on practice at an annual training summit, and sustainability was created through continuation of alarm management assessment and improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-44
Number of pages9
JournalDimensions of Critical Care Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Emergency
  • Critical Care


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