Healthcare Technology Featured Article

April 01, 2014

NiQ Health Solution Reduces 'Alarm Fatigue' among Nursing Staff

A solution developed by NiQ Health seeks to address a serious, growing problem that puts many patients’ lives at risk: alarm fatigue.

Analogous to the boy who cried wolf or the indifference to car alarms when they go off, alarm fatigue is the result of numerous alarms that did not result in actual emergencies. Over time, nurses become desensitized to these alarms and when actual emergencies arise, delayed responses and missed alarms increase.

Wilmington, Del.-based NiQ Health, LLC offers the CarePlus Management Information System, which was originally developed by ELA Systems in Australia back in 2008. NiQ Health acquired CarePlus in 2010 to make the product available to a larger marketplace. The company has several technological partnerships with Microsoft, Vissensa, Dalcon Communication Systems, HSP and PMSI.

According to the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), alarm configurations like overly tight thresholds and a failure to set parameters to actionable levels are major causes of false alarms. An AACN cautions against disabling alarms nonchalantly and encourages a systematic approach to dealing with environmental noise; different alarms; monitoring results and adjusting accordingly and using pagers or phones to alert specific caregivers.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) adds that caregivers need to become familiar with monitoring systems and not to rely solely on pagers or phones for alerts. The FDA’s MAUDE database logged nearly 600 cases of alarm related deaths between 2005 and 2010. The lack of familiarity with monitors and failing to check alarm statuses were common factors in these deaths.

It is an unfortunate irony that so many have died while being connected to devices that are meant to be life-saving. The number of alarm-related deaths is a symptom of a larger problem: hospital and clinical staffs in the current state are not equipped to deal with an aging population in the U.S. that will need more healthcare services. These organizations have to do more with less and a tool that increases operational efficiency, like CarePlus, is a godsend to them. 

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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