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What Is Alarm Fatigue?

September 6th, 2017
On behalf of David Bowling of The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm, A Professional Law Corporation posted in Medical Malpractice on Wednesday, September 6, 2017.

When you hear a car alarm sound on your street, is your first instinct to call the police and let them know someone is trying to break into a vehicle? What about when the smoke alarm in your home sounds? Do you grab your children, run outside, and call the fire department?




In the above scenarios, most people take neither proposed approach. Instead, they simply hope the owner of the car turns off the alarm soon, or they grab a towel and start fanning the smoke detector until the beeping stops.

Humans are inherently inclined to look for patterns and then base their reactions around both conscious and subconscious observations. Thus, if you hear an alarm sound frequently enough but it never indicates an emergency, you may learn to ignore it altogether.

This is known as “alarm fatigue,” and though it rarely poses a risk in everyday life, it can have serious consequences in medical settings. According to a review published in The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses Advanced Critical Care, between 72 and 99 percent of alarms that sound in a clinical environment are false. Unfortunately, this has led to widespread alarm fatigue among providers.

If you received negligent care because a provider with alarm fatigue ignored a legitimate emergency, you may be able to pursue compensation for the subsequent damages you incurred. Contact The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm to discuss your case and determine the best way to proceed.

The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm is an AV-rated law Firm under Martindale-Hubbell’s peer review rating system. Call (504) 586-5200 to schedule a case evaluation with a medical malpractice attorney in Jackson.

What Is Alarm Fatigue?

Alarm fatigue refers to a healthcare provider’s desensitization to the constant beeping of various medical equipment designed to monitor a patient’s vitals. This includes devices that measure blood pressure, oxygen levels, and heart rate. Factors that contribute to repeated false alarms and subsequent alarm fatigue include:

  • Devices with parameters that are set too tightly;
  • Devices that have not been adjusted for the individual patient;
  • Poor practices regarding electrocardiogram electrodes;
  • A staff member’s inability to detect which device is sounding the alarm;
  • Inadequate staff training on how to monitor and respond to each alarm; and
  • Devices that frequently malfunction.

Ignoring false alarms will not impact the patient’s condition in any way; however, if the staff ignores an alarm that is actually indicating a serious problem, it could have devastating and even fatal consequences. Administrators at healthcare facilities need to take measures to reduce the number of false alarms that their equipment emits and to train staff to respond appropriately to every alarm that does sound.

If you suffered damages because hospital staff failed to take action when a device monitoring your vitals sounded, contact The Bowling Christiansen Law Firm. David A. Bowling has more than three decades of trial experience, and he can ensure your best interests remain a priority during every step of the claims process.

Call (504) 586-5200 to schedule a consultation with a medical malpractice lawyer in Jackson. If you want to learn more about filing a successful malpractice claim Mississippi, visit

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