Device Safety: Take precautions with audible alarms on ventilators
LCDR Kimberly Love BS
Courtney Jennings Millin PhD
CDR Charles Kerns MS, BSN, RN

September 2011 
Volume 41  Number 9
Pages 65 - 65
  PDF Version Available!

MECHANICAL ventilators provide essential respiratory support to critically ill patients in healthcare facilities, in homes, and during patient transport. Providing care to patients requiring mechanical ventilation can be challenging due to factors such as the severity of the patient's illness and complexity of the equipment. Many nurses rely too heavily on ventilators' built-in safety features-specifically their alarms, which are intended to alert staff to a potential problem with the patient or ventilator that may require immediate attention.In 2010, the FDA received over 2,500 adverse event reports associated with ventilator use. About a third of these events indicated an alarm-related issue.1 Although some of these alarm-related adverse event reports reflected deteriorating patient condition, indicating that the ventilator alarms had functioned appropriately, many indicated preventable audible ventilator alarm malfunctions or human error.These case reports represent preventable audible

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