ResearchUse of Monitor Watchers in Hospitals: Characteristics, Training, and Practices

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Monitor watchers, or personnel whose job it is to watch the central cardiac monitor and alert clinicians of patient events, are used in many hospitals. Monitor watchers may be used to improve timely response to alarms and combat the effects of alarm fatigue. However, little research has been done on the use of monitor watchers, and their practices have not been well described. Therefore, the purpose of our study was to examine the use of monitor watchers and their characteristics, training, and practices. Participants were recruited to complete an online survey on monitor watcher practice via two professional nursing organizations. A total of 413 responded to the survey, including 411 nurses and two non-nurse professionals, and 61% reported that their hospital used monitor watchers. Of these, 60% indicated that their hospitals have been using monitor watchers for more than 10 years, and 62% said that the monitor watchers were located remotely from the patient care unit. Many (68%) reported that monitor watchers worked 12-hour shifts, and a majority said that monitor watchers were required to have a certificate in electrocardiographic monitoring (67%) and be high school graduates (64%). Most (70%) respondents reported that monitor watchers alerted the nurse of an event via a mobile phone carried by the nurse. The results of this survey revealed that monitor watcher practices varied widely. Further research is needed to determine if the use of monitor watchers has an impact on patient outcomes.

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