Oct 18, 2016
In the past few years I have heard this phrase on more than one occasion. People are often frustrated with alarms in general and fall management alarms in particular, which causes some facilities to just eliminate their alarms all together.
I was exhibiting at a trade show recently when people would walk by my booth and declaratively tell me they were “alarm-free,” which implies that there was no reason for me to tell them about my products because they no longer use alarms. Sometimes people were still open to chatting about how their approach was working for them, I was somewhat surprised by their responses.
When I asked if they were able to reduce the number of falls without the monitors, they usually said “no” but would point out that alarms did not prevent falls either. Of course, monitors only notify staff when a pending fall is occurring, which technically does not prevent a fall. They are just tools to be used in an attempt to help keep people from falling. One attendee told me that they had 8 falls the previous week in their “alarm-free” facility, which sounds more like resident-roulette than a fall management strategy.
I had a couple of conversations where I explained that I have several customers that were at one time “alarm-free” but that policy changed after a serious fall-related accident. If a fall occurs and an injury results, family members are usually not very understanding about the new “alarm-free” protocol. They only know that their mom was put into a facility that offers round-the-clock care and now she has a broken hip.
I can completely understand why facilities and their staffs do not like alarms, most people aren’t pleased to hear alarms in general but they do serve an important purpose. Here are some steps we can take to help compromise and hopefully prevent some falls from happening:
Use alarms on residents/patients who are at high risk of falling. Not everyone needs to have an alarm
Find a system that allows you to turn the volume down or even off. When a system is “tied-into” a nurse call system they will still be notified of a bed or chair egress but the alarm sound will not bother others
Find a system that uses technology to reduce false alarms (such as adjusting delay or volume settings), which can really annoy the staff
Educate the staff regarding the consequences of falls. There is a lot of information on the CDC website and others that discuss the possible financial consequences of a fall
to leave a comment!