Clinical Trial of an Educational Program to Decrease Monitor Alarms in a Medical Intensive Care Unit

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Abstract

Clinical research to identify effective interventions for decreasing nonactionable alarms has been limited. The objective of this study was to determine if a staff educational program on customizing alarm settings on bedside monitors decreased alarms in a medical intensive care unit (MICU). A preintervention, postintervention, nonequivalent group design was used to evaluate an educational program on alarm management in a convenience sample of MICU nurses. A 15-minute session was provided in a 1-week period. The outcome variable (number of alarms for low oxygen saturation via pulse oximetry [SpO2]) was determined from monitor log files adjusted by patient census. Data were collected for 15 days before and after the intervention. χ2 analysis was used, with P less than .05 considered significant. After 1 week of education, low SpO2 alarms decreased from 502 to 306 alarms per patient monitored per day, a 39% reduction (P < .001). Instructions for nurses in the medical intensive care unit on individualizing alarm settings to patients' clinical condition decreased common monitor alarms by 39%.

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