NPSG on clinical alarms will start with phase one
As of Jan. 1, 2014, hospitals and critical access hospitals will be expected to begin phase one of a new National Patient Safety Goal (NPSG) on clinical alarm safety (NPSG.06.01.01).1
The new goal will be implemented in two phases. Phase one begins Jan. 1, 2014, when hospital leaders 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 hospital leaders 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 Joint Commission will publish the phase one and two requirements at the same time in order to provide complete information about the ultimate requirements of the NPSG. However, the proposed phase two requirements might be enhanced before they are implemented in 2016, according to The Joint Commission. These changes could arise from hospitals’ experience with phase one requirements as well as emerging evidence about best practices. The Joint Commission is aware of efforts 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;
- posting literature on the HTSI website (http://www.aami.org/htsi) about best practices on alarm system management. This literature is reviewed by a best practices work group;
- offering webinars on safe alarm management (http://www.aami.org/htsi/alarms/index.html).
If any changes to the phase two requirements are made, accredited hospitals will be notified through field review and Perspectives.
The ECRI Institute website (https://www.ecri.org) contains useful information on safely managing alarm systems. In addition, The Joint Commission published a Sentinel Event Alert on clinical alarm management in April. The alert contains suggestions for assessing and managing risks associated with alarms, and complements the expectations of the new NPSG. (For more information, see "Teen’s death, $6 million settlement put the spotlight on alarm fatigue," Same-Day Surgery, June 2013, p. 61.) Additional Joint Commission resources on the topic include two Take 5 podcasts (http://bit.ly/152imVq) and the replay of a webinar held in May (http://www.jointcommission.org/alarm_safety_webinar).
The new NPSG will be published in the Comprehensive Accreditation Manual for Hospitals (CAMH) in the fall and in Update 2 to the CAMH in 2013, and the e-edition will be updated in October.
1. The Joint Commission. New NPSG on clinical alarm safety: phased implementation in 2014 and 2016. Joint Commission Online June 26, 2013. Accessed at http://bit.ly/14ZFxhD.