Alarm Fatigue: A Concept Analysis

Topics: Nursing, Health care, Patient Pages: 11 (2641 words) Published: September 30, 2015


Alarm Fatigue in Health Care: A Concept Analysis
Chamberlain College of Nursing
NR-501: Theoretical Basis for Advanced Nursing Practice

Alarm Fatigue in Health Care: A Concept Analysis
Alarm fatigue in health care has grown to be an ever-growing concern in the health care arena, especially when looking at patient safety concerns. There must be an understanding of the problem before we can develop policies and effective strategies to counter this problem. The concept of alarm fatigue in health care will be evaluated utilizing the method developed by Walker and Avant (2010) that identifies and gives the significance of the attributes, antecedents, and end-consequences of alarm fatigue in health care. This will be developed based off of literature review, along with the use of model and contradictory cases to emphasize the data discovered in the review stage. Key words utilized during the search include alarm, fatigue, alarm fatigue, nursing, interruptions, & distractions.

Throughout the hospital environment, there are many different noises and sounds to be heard. Many of those sounds heard by nurses, as well as patients and their families are coming from different machines, monitors and even patients. As the quality and number of monitors and special equipment continue to increase, so do the number of patients that are connected to them. This in turn exposes not only patients, but also nurses to a significant amount of noise and alarms, ultimately leading to the clinical problem called alarm fatigue. As defined by the Joint Commission, alarm fatigue is known as the desensitization of medical staff as a result of sensory overload. This overload ultimately results in a delay of an alarm being answered, and sometimes someone completely missing the alarm altogether (The Joint Commission, 2015). Alarm fatigue has been recognized as a contributing factor to clinical distractions, interfering with patient care. This end result is a decrease in patient safety overall. In a report by the Joint Commission (2013), there were reported over 90 sentinel events related to alarms, 80 resulting in death and the remaining in a permanent loss of function or capability (The Joint Commission, 2013). This report further found that the majority of the above incidents occurred because of malfunction, misuse or inadequate settings of the alarms.

Alarm fatigue is clearly a growing problem in health care today. Although a critical life-safety issue, the topic alarm fatigue is poorly defined at best. A comprehensive, all-inclusive definition of alarm fatigue is needed to better understand what it is, as well as help with research on alarm fatigue, and also how to determine and clearly identify the contributing factors of alarm fatigue. It is this reason I have chosen to address alarm fatigue in this concept analysis. Data Sources

Several literature searches were performed on alarm fatigue, using different terms that are synonymous with alarm fatigue to establish a clear baseline of the concept of alarm fatigue. As recommended by Walker & Avant (2010), the search was not limited to specifically nursing information or references, giving a broader definition of and the research on alarm fatigue (Walker & Avant, 2010). A group of searches were performed using the terms alarm, fatigue, alarm fatigue, clinical alerts, fatigue, and mental fatigue. These searches were performed in CINAHL, as well as PUBMED and Google Scholar. Definitions of both terms were also obtained from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. AIM OF THE ANALYSIS

The purpose of the analysis is to clarify the actual concept of alarm fatigue, as related to the health care field. This will contribute to a better understanding of its meaning in the health care arena, as well as contribute to future nursing research about alarm fatigue. A positive end result of the research regarding concept of alarm fatigue will heighten the awareness of...

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Macmillan Publishers. (2015). Macmillan Dictionary. Retrieved from macmillandictionary.com
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Stedman, T. L., & Dirckx, J. H. (2001). Stedman 's concise medical dictionary for the health professions. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins.
The Joint Commission. (2013). Sentinal Event Alert: Medical Device Alarm Safety in Hospitals. Retrieved from www.jointcommission.org/assets/1/18/SEA_50_alarms_4_5_13_FINAL1.pdf
The Joint Commission
Townsend, L., & Scanlan, J. M. (2011). Self-Efficacy Related to Student Nurses in the Clinical Setting: A Concept Analysis. International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, 8(1).
Walker, L. O., & Avant, K. C. (2010). Concept Analysis.
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