Distractors in our Environments A Patient Safety Concern

Distractors in our Environments A Patient Safety Concern

            Distractors are more common in the Intensive Critical Care unit (ICU) due to use of various monitors that need that have alarming sounds. These machines contribute to effective care whereas causing harmful effects. Consequences of these alarms are both to the patient and the nurse. Joint Commission National Patient Safety (JCNS) goal Is to they reduce alarm burden without compromising patient safety Winters et al (2018). This paper discuses ethical issue that arise due to alarm fatigue.
Legal Issue in Alarm Fatigue: Patient Safety   

“Patient deaths have been attributed to alarm fatigue, in Massachusetts hospital which brought national attention” Sendelbach & Funk (2013). This is a serious legal issue as linked to breech of ethical principles especially non-maleficence. Non-maleficence, an ethical principle, is the duty to cause no harm to others either physiological, psychological, social, spiritual. Distractors and cause harm to the patients, hence, breeching the principle on non-maleficence creating legal issues. According to Soni et al (2017) noise in the hospital atmosphere is the main cause of sleep disturbance and anxiety for patients, which causes confusion and can result in increased medication and restraint use. Anxiety may decreases patients confidence in the healthcare staff. Patient in ICU could have many alarms that pose risk to self and of the caregiver confusion of alarms. According to Honan et al (2015) Nurses report exhaustion and irritability which interferes with a work environment contributing to nursing errors which is a risk to patient’s safety.


Conclusion and Future Study

Nurses are also affected by the distractors and experience alarm fatigue and make errors. Nurses working in noisy environments may develop same disturbances as patients therefore, helping the patient to develop coping mechanisms especially ICU whose monitors cannot be switched off is crucial in enhancing sleep and rest which reduces anxiety.



Honan, L., Funk, M., Maynard, M., Fahs, D., Clark, J. T., & David, Y. (2015). Nurses’     perspectives on clinical alarms. American Journal of Critical Care24(5), 387-395.

Sendelbach, S., & Funk, M. (2013). Alarm fatigue: a patient safety concern. AACN advanced       critical care24(4), 378-386.

Soni, P., Aggarwal, N., Kumar, V., Homel, P., & Kupfer, Y. (2017). Authenticity and Reliability             of the Cardiac Monitor Alarms in the ICU: A Patient Safety Concern Due to Alarm           Fatigue. Chest152(4).

Winters, B. D., Cvach, M. M., Bonafide, C. P., Hu, X., Konkani, A., O’Connor, M. F., … &         Kane-Gill, S. L. (2018). Technological distractions (part 2): a summary of approaches to     manage clinical alarms with intent to reduce alarm fatigue. Critical care medicine46(1),             130-137.

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