When your institution and your Alarm Management Steering Group first confronts alarm management it is important for your team to agree on some basic principles. Namely, what makes a “good alarm”?
Looking back at the history of monitoring devices, more and more devices are being added to patients. It is easy for device manufacturers and interoperability vendors to include more alarms with more devices. But, just because there is an alarm feature does not mean all alarms should be enabled for all patients in every unit. This leaves hospitals with a substantial number of alarms to configure and manage.
It is ultimately up to your team to decide which alarms and alarming systems should be active and are important for the care of your patients. The number and type of alarms you have enabled is dependent on your institutions risk tolerance, unit type and patient mix.
Going beyond that initial test, characteristics of a good alarm include (adapted from EEMUA):
In an ideal world, hospitals would answer these 8 questions for every type of alarm in a unit. Practically, Alarm Steering Committees can uses these characteristics as a starting point for addressing the most frequent and highest criticality alarms.