Study: These factors impact nurse response time to bedside monitor alarms

A study, published in JAMA pediatrics, examined the factors that affect response time to physiologic monitor alarms among nurses in a hospital medical unit.

Researchers investigated nurse response to bedside alarms using 551 hours of video-recorded care. They studied 38 nurses in a children's hospital medical unit that included 100 children, between July 22, 2014, and Nov. 11, 2015.

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Of 11,745 alarms that went off during the recorded period of care, 50 were actionable. The adjusted median response time among nurses was 10.4 minutes.

The nurse response time varied based on the following variables:

•    If the patient was on complex care service (5.3 minutes versus 11.1 minutes for general pediatrics patients)
•    Whether family members were absent from the patient's bedside (6.3 minutes versus 11.7 minutes when family present)
•    Whether a nurse had less than one year of experience (4.4 minutes versus 8.8 minutes for nurses with one or more years of experience)
•    If there was a one-to-one nursing assignment ratio (3.5 minutes versus 10.6 minutes nurses caring for two or more patients)
•    If there were prior alarms requiring intervention (5.5 minutes versus 10.7 minutes for patients without intervention)
•    If there was a lethal arrhythmia alarm (1.2 minutes versus 10.4 minutes for alarms for other conditions)

Additionally, each hour that elapsed during a nurse's shift was associated with a 15 percent longer response time.

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