The Joint Commission has released a set of safety guidelines for health care providers who may be suffering from “alarm fatigue” due to the constant beeping of medical devices, such as blood pressure, heart rate monitors and similar devices. The lack of standardization of a beep’s meaning and the abundance of such devices has created an atmosphere in which hospital workers are confused by – or oblivious to – the alerts, resulting in injuries and deaths.

According to the FDA’s Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience database, more than 500 alarm-related patient deaths were reported between 2005 and 2010. In addition to “alarm fatigue” and inaudible alarms, contributing factors in such incidents include improper alarm settings, equipment malfunctions, inadequate staff training and not enough staff available to respond to all alarms in a timely fashion.

In order to combat the problem, the Joint Commission recommends hospitals implement specific alarm management and response protocol for staff to follow, create a schedule for inspecting and maintaining all devices with alarms to ensure their settings are correct and in good working order, and assess whether alarm signals are clearly audible in patient care areas.

If you or a loved one has been harmed because hospital staff ignored monitor alarms or for any other hospital or medical negligence claims, please contact Michels & Lew attorneys today at 310-444-1200.