- Current hospital emergency alarm technology creates a noise when a certain threshold is passed, creating an alert. In hospitals where alarms go off frequently, alarm fatigue occurs when employees become "numb" to the sound. This occurs because a typical intensive care unit can have 40 different alarms. One ventilator on the market has 111 different alarm features.
- At Johns Hopkins Hospital, a report found that there were nearly 60,000 alarm conditions over a 12-day period (350 per bed per day). The ICUs averaged 771 alarm conditions per bed per day.
- Organizations including General Electric, Phillips and Stanley are trying to deliver smarter alarm systems. Still, the Emergency Care Research Institute ranked alarm hazards as the number-one industry hazard for 2013. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration found 560 alarm-related deaths over a four-year period.
The Joint Commission has indicated that alarm fatigue is a serious issue hospitals should be tackling—and some are. Boston Medical Center determined that low-level warning alarms don't need to alert nurses with a sound, so they turned them off. Some low-level alarms were switched to high-level and nurses are able to switch settings according to an individual patient's needs. These changes have reduced the number of alarms from 90,000 per week to 10,000 in the hospital's cardiac unit alone.