Clinical Alarm Issues Inhibit the Delivery of Safe Healthcare

Mar 07, 2011, 09:59 ET from ECRI Institute

ECRI Institute Salutes National Patient Safety Awareness Week with Free Clinical Alarms Risk Analysis

PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa., March 7, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Clinical alarms alert caregivers and hospital staff to critical changes in a patient's physiologic condition, as well as to safety issues and device malfunctions, so that caregivers may intervene appropriately. Adverse alarm events are accidents waiting to happen, the results of a perfect storm in an error-prone system. Unfortunately, alarm events occur frequently.


Recent news coverage in the Boston Globe pointed a high-profile spotlight at the very real dangers of alarm events. The Globe's article highlighted cases which resulted in patient harm and death as well as ECRI Institute's investigation of these events. Many alarm events are attributed to alarm fatigue, which continues to be a pervasive problem at most hospitals.

In honor of National Patient Safety Awareness Week, March 6-12, 2011, ECRI Institute is providing a free download of the full Risk Analysis, "Clinical Alarms." This article, from ECRI Institute's Healthcare Risk Control System, discusses the following areas related to clinical alarms, which can assist risk managers in their patient safety efforts:

  • Joint Commission standards
  • Alarm-related incidents and user issues
  • Alarm solutions
  • Alarm-setting protocols
  • Specific strategies for ventilator alarms
  • Specific strategies for physiologic monitoring alarms
  • Alarm overload

In order to help healthcare organizations face the unique issues associated with clinical alarms, ECRI Institute is now offering systematic Alarm Management Safety Reviews. This service analyzes your facility's current culture, infrastructure, practices, and technology to help you identify and address your patient safety vulnerabilities with realistic, implementable alarm management strategies.

ECRI Institute's Healthcare Risk Control System is a membership program that provides actionable recommendations, tools, sample policies and procedures, and many other sources of practical advice for minimizing risk and ensuring patient safety. For more information about Alarm Management Safety Reviews or the Healthcare Risk Control System, contact or call (610) 825-6000, ext. 5891.

About ECRI Institute

ECRI Institute (, a nonprofit organization, dedicates itself to bringing the discipline of applied scientific research to healthcare to discover which medical procedures, devices, drugs, and processes are best to enable improved patient care. As pioneers in this science for more than 40 years, ECRI Institute marries experience and independence with the objectivity of evidence-based research. ECRI Institute is designated a World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Patient Safety, Risk Management, and Healthcare Technology and an Evidence-based Practice Center by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. ECRI Institute PSO, listed as a federally certified Patient Safety Organization by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, strives to achieve the highest levels of safety and quality in healthcare by collecting and analyzing patient safety information and sharing lessons learned and best practices. Find ECRI Institute on Facebook ( and Twitter (