Hospital Group Says Beeping Alarms Can Lead To “Noise Fatigue”

CHICAGO (April 8, 2013)--The constant beep of alarms in hospitals is linked to patient deaths and other dangers according to a new alert from the Joint Commission.

The alarms can lead to "noise fatigue," and doctors and nurses sometimes inadvertently ignore the beeps when there's a real patient emergency, possibly resulting in treatment delays that endanger patients, according to the alert issued Monday by the Joint Commission hospital accrediting group.

The group says a government database lists more than 500 deaths potentially linked with hospital alarms in recent years.

The commission says hospital leaders need to address the problem and train staffers in safe alarm management.

The Joint Commission accredits more than 10,000 U.S. hospital and health care organizations.

Hospitals covet the accreditation and following the commission’s advice is key to maintaining it.

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