(HealthDay News) — When a bedside alarm goes off in a child’s hospital room, anxious parents expect nurses to respond pronto.
That rarely happens, however, and a new study helps explain why.
Reasons Why Response Time In Question
Researchers found that nurses are usually quick to react when alarms are urgent. But, they’re slower to respond at the end of the workday or when they suffer from “chronic alarm fatigue.”
Also, having parents present doubled the response time on average, the study found.
But, delayed response time didn’t threaten any of the 100 patients evaluated in the study, the researchers said. And just half of 1 percent of more than 11,000 alarms analyzed were deemed “actionable,” or crucial.
“The nurses were overall doing a great job predicting which alarms were going to be important,” said study lead author Dr. Christopher Bonafide, an assistant professor of pediatrics with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Their intuition was correct.”
The high number of false alarms in U.S. hospitals has led to “alarm fatigue” among nurses. As a result, the Joint Commission — the organization that accredits American hospitals — issued new guidelines for managing alarm monitors.
The beeps and buzzes alert staff to medical problems facing patients such as high heart rates, dips in oxygen levels in the blood and dangerous heartbeat patterns, Bonafide said.
Too Many False Alarms
But, many false alarms are caused simply by babies moving around and disrupting sensors, he said.
“When an alarm goes off and the nurse is already in the patient’s room, they can immediately look up, check on the patient, and make sure everything is OK,” Bonafide said. “When a nurse isn’t in the room, some hospitals like ours have the ability to send them a text message to the phone that they are carrying.”
For this study, researchers analyzed video of 38 nurses caring for 100 patients at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia from 2014-2015.
Almost all of the 11,745 beeps and buzzes that sounded were valid. And 50 were deemed critical, “the important ones we would not want anyone to miss,” Bonafide said. Nurses responded in about a minute, on average, to these alarms.
However, overall, half of the total alarms took 10.4 minutes or more to address, the study found.
Years on the job and caseload accounted for some differences in response time.
“Nurses with under one year of experience responded faster than nurses with one or more years’ experience,” Bonafide said. “Nurses taking care of just one patient responded faster than those caring for more than one patient. And for each hour that passed in a nurse’s shift, their response time got a little bit slower.”
Other factors appeared to contribute, too.
“If family members were absent from the bedside, response time was faster than if parents were there,” he said. The median response time was six minutes when family members weren’t there, and 12 minutes when they were.
Also, “more complex” patients got faster responses, Bonafide said. “And patients who had prior alarms that required interventions to be taken got faster responses than those who had not had those experiences.”
Marjorie Funk, a professor at Yale University School of Nursing, praised the study. She said the findings shouldn’t worry parents about leaving their child’s side at hospitals.
“Alarms for serious events sound different, and nurses respond immediately,” Funk noted. “Other alarms may require their attention, but they can finish what they are doing for another patient before responding or can ask a colleague to respond.”
Bonafide said there are no guidelines that tell nurses how quickly they should response to various alarms. But, he thinks the system needs improvement.
“There’s quite a lot we can do to improve the safety and performance of these systems and make them work for us and provide truly useful information that helps nurses identify patients who are getting into trouble,” he said.
When a child is hospitalized, Bonafide and Funk agreed that it’s appropriate for parents to ask questions. These might include asking physicians and nurses, “Why is my child being continuously monitored? What problems are you looking for?” and “What should I do if an alarm goes off?”
The study appears in the April 10 issue of JAMA Pediatrics.
SOURCES: Christopher Bonafide, M.D., assistant professor, pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Marjorie Funk, Ph.D., RN, professor, nursing, Yale University School of Nursing, New Haven, Conn.; April 10, 2017, JAMA Pediatrics
News stories are written and provided by HealthDay and do not reflect federal policy, the views of MedlinePlus, the National Library of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The information herein on "Nurse! What's Taking So Long? Study Points To Causes." is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional.
Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.*
Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.
We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
We are here to help you and your family.