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Alarms in the ICU: A study investigating how ICU nurses respond to clinical alarms for patient safety in a selected hospital in KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa

A Ramlaul, G Chironda, P Brysiewicz

Abstract


Background. Advances in technology have facilitated the implementation of improved alarm management systems in the healthcare sector. There is a need to identify challenges encountered by intensive care unit (ICU) nurses with clinical alarm management systems in South Africa (SA) to ensure utilisation of these technological resources for patient safety.

Objective. To investigate how intensive care nurses respond to clinical alarms for patient safety in a selected hospital in KwaZulu-Natal Province, SA. Methods. A descriptive, non-experimental research design using the census sampling strategy was used to invite 120 nurses from four ICUs to complete an adapted, structured questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were used to analyse the data.

Results. We had 91 respondents who completed the questionnaires (response rate of 75.8%). The majority of the respondents (85.7%) strongly knew the purpose of clinical alarms and 45.1% strongly felt confident about adjusting and monitoring the clinical alarms. More than half of the nurses (53.8 %) agreed to the existence of nuisance alarms that disrupted patient care (46.7%) and contributed to lack of responses (52.7%). While 76.9% strongly agreed with alarm sounds and displays to differentiate the priority of the alarms, 75.8% strongly agreed to the existence of proper documentation on setting alarms that are appropriate for each patient. The most frequent barriers were difficulty in setting alarms properly (51.6%) and lack of training on alarm systems (47.8%). Conclusion. The complexity in setting the alarms, limited training and existence of false alarms was evident. Alarm-specific training is required to keep intensive care nurses updated with changes in technology to ensure patient safety.


Authors' affiliations

A Ramlaul, School of Nursing and Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

G Chironda, School of Nursing and Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

P Brysiewicz, School of Nursing and Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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Cite this article

Southern African Journal of Critical Care 2021;37(2):57-62. DOI:10.7196/SAJCC.2021.v37i2.469

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-08-06
Date published: 2021-08-06

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