The Joint Commission has now approved the new National Patient Safety Goal for 2014 on clinical alarm safety and management (NPSG 06.01.01). The content is pretty much as described in our Whats New in the Patient Safety World columns for February 2013 Joint Commission Proposes New 2014 National Patient Safety Goal and May 2013 Joint Commission Sentinel Event Alert: Alarm Safety. However, the announcement (Joint Commission 2013) has a considerable change in the expected timeline, allowing hospitals much more time for full implementation. The Joint Commission has done this in view of ongoing studies developing best practices for alarm management.
The new NPSG requires as of July 1, 2014 all affected organizations establish alarm system safety as a priority and in 2014 to identify the most important alarm signals to manage (based on input from staff, risk to patients, clinical necessity of alarms vs. unnecessity that might contribute to noise and alarm fatigue, potential for patient harm based on internal incident history, and published best practices and guidelines).
However, it then gives organizations until January 1, 2016 to develop policies and procedures and staff educational programs to manage the alarms identified in the above exercise.
We certainly hope that this reprieve does not discourage organizations form moving forward expediently in improving alarm system management. The Joint Commission recognizes that many best practices will be developed or refined over the coming years and presumably is allowing for such changes to impact systems.
A good place to start is our July 2, 2013 Patient Safety Tip of the Week Issues in Alarm Management which has some comprehensive recommendations about alarm safety and management. It has many links to useful resources and to many of our prior columns on alarm-related issues that include some chilling stories of adverse outcomes related to improper alarm issues and their root causes.
Prior Patient Safety Tips of the Week pertaining to alarm-related issues:
The Joint Commission. The Joint Commission Announces 2014 National Patient Safety Goal. July 19, 2013
AAMI HTSI website (AAMI Healthcare Technology Safety Institute).
ECRI Institute. Alarm Safety Resource Site.
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