One selling point for the $3.4 million emergency alerting system Charleston County Council recently approved was to spare emergency personnel from being alerted to constant calls to which they weren’t supposed to respond. The situation was causing them unnecessary stress, and the fear was that, amidst so many calls, they would miss the important ones.
Kind of like hospital personnel, it seems. They call it alarm fatigue.
A new report by the Joint Commission, the national organization that accredits hospitals, indicates they are subjected to so much beeping and so many alarms that they sometimes become desensitized to the noises and ignore them.
The report says this has resulted in at least two dozen deaths a year.
Blood pressure monitors, ventilators, electrocardiogram machines and more beep for different reasons. Some beep when the device fails to function. Some beep when there is an emergency.
If hospital workers get confused or desensitized and don’t get to patients quickly enough, the result can be fatal.
The Joint Commission hopes that making hospitals aware of this problem will result in management and training changes that can save lives.
Charleston County hopes that its new routing system will reduce the time it takes to respond to emergencies and save lives.
Let’s hope they both are right.