Reduce IV Pump Alarms and Increase the Efficiency of Care

Combining unique IV pump technologies designed to minimize alarms with intelligent alarm forwarding helps you reduce the noise and annoyance of excessive alarms while enabling more efficient delivery of care.

Take Charge of IV Pump Alarms to Help Keep Care Quiet

See how the Plum 360 infusion system’s innovative design helps you minimize air-in-line and distal (patient-side) occlusion alarms while ICU Medical IV-EHR interoperability lets you escalate actionable alerts to the right clinicians for faster intervention.

The Challenge

Medical device alarm fatigue presents a significant patient safety concern in hospitals, where more than 85 percent of alarms are false but ignoring a clinically actionable alarm can prove deadly.

The constant cacophony of medical device alarms in a hospital—the vast majority of which are false—can lead to a level of clinician desensitization that results in missed true alarms, delayed clinical response, and patient safety risks. Because of this, alarm fatigue has become a critical concern, with the ECRI Institute listing it as a top technology hazard for many years, and The Joint Commission issuing a sentinel event alert on alarms and making alarm management a national patient safety goal.

Alarms can be a major disruption at the bedside, with one study showing that infusions were not administered as intended 44% of the time due to alarm conditions.

Infusion pumps can be major contributors to medical device alarm fatigue, with one study showing that nearly 10% of all alarms in an intensive care unit are from infusion pumps.

One of the most common infusion pump alarms is for air in the IV line. While it is essential to keep air out of an infusion line, once the condition is detected, the pump has to be stopped until the air is cleared, delaying essential therapy. For many infusion pumps, the air removal process requires disconnecting the line from the patient and manually drawing the air out of the tubing from a y-site, which takes time and introduces infection risk by opening up the patient IV line.

Another common infusion pump alarm is a distal occlusion alarm, which is often caused by the patient kinking the line by bending an arm or catching the loose tubing on the bed. Depending on the design of the infusion pump, this too takes clinical attention to resolve, can require purging the IV line, and takes time away from other meaningful work.

From an acoustic perspective alone, excessive alarms are frustrating to patients and nurses alike. However, the inability to distinguish between which alarms require immediate attention and which can wait, as well as situations where assigned clinicians are tied up elsewhere when a pump alarms, add to a nurse’s daily stress and can impact patient safety.

Our Solution

Increase clinical efficiency and patient safety by reducing IV pump alarms and assuring actionable clinical alerts get to a qualified caregiver who can respond quickly to resolve the issue.

air-in-line alarms

By using ICU Medical’s advanced infusion pump technology and comprehensive integration with other systems, clinicians can minimize the alarms from their infusion pumps, resolve some of them automatically, and be alerted when they need to act right away. This reduces the alarms they have to respond to and informs them of what is going on with their patients—away from the bedside.

ICU Medical’s Plum 360 infusion system features a proprietary active pumping mechanism that uses a cassette system with unique air management that reduces air-in-line alarms by capturing up to one milliliter of air before alarming. In an internal study comparing air-in-line alarms between the Plum 360 and a competitive device through five simulated sessions of a chemotherapy protocol, the competitive pump had 21 air in line alarms over the sessions compared to zero for the Plum 360.

When the Plum 360 does alarm for air in line, removal can be done quickly and easily while maintaining a closed system by back priming air through the secondary port.

Also, with the Plum 360 patients can be taught to check for a distal occlusion by unbending their arm if they hear the pump alarm. If the occlusion is resolved within 60 seconds, the pump can be configured to automatically restart up to 10 times.

We continue working to reduce nurse alarm burden. The latest Plum 360 software release (r15.11) eliminates idle alarms, so the pump can be on and waiting for programming without triggering an alarm.

Full IV-EHR Interoperability provides intelligent alarm forwarding.

Another way to address alarm fatigue is through IV-EHR interoperability where ICU Medical MedNet acts as the alarm forwarder in an integrated architecture, handing off pump alarms/messages to an alert notification alarms management system. This lets you improve clinical awareness and reduce response time with near real-time alarm forwarding that connects to intelligent alarm solutions providers, as well as filter alerts based on your preset clinical criteria to reduce alarm fatigue.

The goal of an alarm forwarding solution is to provide context to the nurse who is away from the bedside to associate the criticality of the alarm with a comprehensive reason for the alarm. A hospital can decide what level of alarm they want to forward (high, medium, or low). Alarm forwarding solutions can be configured to send an actionable notification to nursing stations and mobile devices, with the opportunity to cascade messages when the original recipient is unable to respond.

In addition to the added safety benefits of alarm forwarding, your nurses have the reassurance that they will become aware of significant issues in time to intervene appropriately.

Let us help you take charge of alarms

The Joint Commission's 2014 National Patient Safety Goals required hospitals to evaluate alarm safety in 2014-2015 and implement alarm safety policies. Contact us for a free consultation to evaluate your hospital's alarm burden and alarm safety practices.

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