New NPSG addresses clinical alarm safety
The Joint Commission (TJC) has approved a new National Patient Safety Goal (NPSG) on clinical alarm safety (NPSG.06.01.01) for 2014 for hospitals and critical access hospitals.
The new goal will be implemented in two phases: Phase one begins Jan. 1, 2014, when hospitals will be required to establish alarm safety as an organizational priority and identify the most important alarms to manage based on their own internal situations. Phase two begins Jan. 1, 2016, when hospitals will be expected to develop and implement specific components of policies and procedures, and to educate staff in the organization about alarm system management. (The NPSG is available online at http://tinyurl.com/NPSGalarms.)
TJC will publish the phase one and two requirements at the same time to provide complete information about the ultimate requirements of the NPSG. The proposed phase two requirements might be enhanced before they are implemented in 2016. These changes could arise from hospitals’ experience with phase one requirements as well as newly emerging evidence about best practices.
TJC notes that efforts are underway that will support the implementation of phase two requirements. For example, the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation’s (AAMI) Healthcare Technology Safety Institute (HTSI) is engaged in activities that promote safe alarm system management, including conducting a survey and study of hospital practices in setting alarm parameters. They also are posting literature on the HTSI website about best practices on alarm system management.
The proposed NPSG was reviewed by Joint Commission advisory committees, which supported the NPSG because it focuses attention on the safety issue; however, they noted that solutions will be evolving over many years. (TJC’s recent Sentinel Event Alert on clinical alarms is available online at http://tinyurl.com/cygrc4. For more on the patient safety risks associated with clinical alarm fatigue, see Healthcare Risk Management, August 2013, p. 93.)