Medical device alarms aren’t the only technology contributing to fatigue among nurses. Refrigerator alarms contribute to physical fatigue and alarm fatigue, says Brian Balboni, CEO of Primex Wireless, a company in Lake Geneva, WI, that provides wireless monitoring technology. The Joint Commission requires hospitals to monitor and log the temperature of refrigerators used to store everything from medications and IV solutions to nutritionals, such as juices, Balboni notes. If the hospital is using standard data loggers, someone (almost always a nurse) must check the temperature on each data logger a minimum of twice a day and enter the reading on a log sheet. “That means a nurse who already may not even have five minutes to grab a bite to eat must leave his or her patients to take on this additional task,” Balboni says. In addition, someone — again, usually a nurse — periodically will have to download the data from the data logger somehow to get the reports that the hospital needs to submit to The Joint Commission. “Where it really gets crazy is if a temperature reading goes out of range between visits, it will normally set off a local alarm,” Balboni says. “That alarm’s only purpose is to tell the nurse to contact maintenance immediately — yet another task that isn’t exactly working at the top of a nurse’s license.” A monitoring system that eliminates the need for manual logging and alarms can be a better solution, he says. The system will log the data electronically as well as send an automatic email, text, or phone alert directly to the person who is responsible for fixing the situation if a refrigerator goes out of range. This method removes the need for the local alarm, helping reduce alarm fatigue and the risk of spoilage while eliminating additional, non-clinical work for nurses. Direct, alarm-free notification also can contribute to higher Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) patient satisfaction scores around Question 9 regarding how often the area around the room was quiet at night, Balboni notes.
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