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Nurses Ignoring Alarms Put Hospital Patients at Risk

Posted on Jul 15, 2013

“Alarm fatigue”, as explained in the article, occurs when nurses and other workers are overwhelmed or desensitized by the constant beeping and alarms from the numerous monitors and devices used by patients. Medical devices like blood-pressure monitors and infusion pump send out constant beeps in different tones that can wear out the nurses who listen to them all day. This causes many to turn down the volume or even mute the devices. But by trying to ignore the false alarms, nurses can miss an important signal from the monitors, putting many patients at risk.

Mariah Edwards, a 17 year old, had surgery at a Pennsylvania surgery center. After the surgery, she was given a potent painkiller that slowed her breathing. Fifteen days later, she died from irreversible brain injury because the alarm on the respiratory monitor was muted. Her parents filed a medical malpractice lawsuit and won a $6 million settlement.

Recent studies show that this type of medical malpractice is frequent and an important issue that needs to be addressed now. ECRI Institute, a nonprofit patient-safety organization, listed alarm hazards as the number one issue on its annual list of the top health-technology dangers for 2012 and 2013. Also, the FDA received 862 death reports associated with alarms the span of seven years. 

The truth is hospitals make mistakes that can put patients at risk. This is just one of many examples of medical malpractice. If you believe you were a victim of medical malpractice or know of someone who is, call us at (202) 393-3320. Even if you’re unsure and need more information, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help.

And we have had cases against hospitals where the alarm system didn’t work, weren’t attached properly or even used in the first place – and that kind of attitude really puts patients at risk.

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