Medical Device alarms are for enhanced patient safety. But, for years hosptial personnel have turned them off, turned them down, or changed the parameters so that they don't go off when needed. When this happens people are injured or die needlessly. This behavior results oftentimes from "alarm fatigue" but also from inadequate staffing or improper training. The problem has been discussed for years since the rapid rise of medical technology using such devices and has been a big problem behind the scenes in hospitals. But, like most issues things in hospitals they have kept it a secret. Now, the Joint Commission on Acreditation of Healthcare Organizations has decided to take the matter public and official by issuing Sentinel Event Alert No. 50 on April 8 of this year. The alert puts all accredited hospitals on notice of steps that the administrators should take to address this problem. While there is not much a patient or his family can do when their loved one is in the hospital to address programming of medical device alarm settings, the take-away for patients and their families is to be proactive when alarms are going off and make sure staff are addressing the device's warnings.
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