Patients Are Dying From Unheard Alarms

The Boston Globe reports that more than 2000 people died in a period of a little more than five years because of issues arising from alarms on hospitalized patients.  The cause in many cases:  personnel did not notice that the alarms were sounding or ignored them.

From the article:

 

The Globe enlisted the ECRI Institute, a nonprofit health care research and consulting organization based in Pennsylvania, to help it analyze the Food and Drug Administration’s database of adverse events involving medical devices. The institute listed monitor alarms as the number-one health technology hazard for 2009. Its review found 216 deaths nationwide from 2005 to the middle of 2010 in which problems with monitor alarms occurred.

But ECRI, based on its work with hospitals, believes that the health care industry underreports these cases and that the number of deaths is far higher. It found 13 more cases in its own database, which it compiles from incident investigations on behalf of hospital clients and from its own voluntary reporting system.

There is more:

The Globe, with the help of ECRI, reviewed copies of 216 reports that device manufacturers filed with the FDA on deaths in which problems with monitor alarms occurred. The names of hospitals and patients had been removed for privacy reasons.

Initially, hospitals almost always blame the monitor’s alarm for not sounding when it should have, according to the reports. But the company investigations show that assertion is often false.  

The Boston Globe article is an example of what real newspaper reporting used to be like before the McNews era. Read and become informed about this very real problem.