Telemetry Monitor Watchers Reduce Bedside Nurses' Exposure to Alarms by Intercepting a High Number of Nonactionable Alarms

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Abstract

Cardiac telemetry, designed to monitor hospitalized patients with active cardiac conditions, is highly utilized outside the intensive care unit but is also resource-intensive and produces many nonactionable alarms. In a hospital setting in which dedicated monitor watchers are set up to be the first responders to system-generated alerts, we conducted a retrospective study of the alerts produced over a continuous 2-month period to evaluate how many were intercepted before nurse notification for being nonactionable, and how many resulted in code team activations. Over the 2-month period, the system generated 20,775 alerts (5.1/patient-day, on average), of which 87% were intercepted by monitor watchers. None of the alerts for asystole, ventricular fibrillation, or ventricular tachycardia resulted in a code team activation. Our results highlight the high burden of alerts, the large majority of which are nonactionable, as well as the role of monitor watchers in decreasing the alarm burden on nurses. Measures are needed to decrease telemetry-related alerts in order to reduce alarm-related harms, such as alarm fatigue.

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