Alarm Appropriate – First Do No Harm!

Angie SzumlinskiUncategorized

There is no lack of opinion as to whether personal alarms used in fall prevention programs are effective or not.  Although recent research leans toward eliminating the use of alarms as they are not effective, we need to move slowly.

The most important part of any reduction program whether it be restraints, side rails, alarms, etc. is to follow a process.  The ultimate goal is to keep residents safe and “do no harm”.  Our focus should be to determine why the resident has a risk for falls by determining the root cause.  Once we determine what the root cause is, we can best assist the resident in reducing the risks. 

An interesting article was published on March 25, 2013 that describes the process of reducing alarm use in a nursing facility (click on link below to read the entire article).  The statistics are interesting and noteworthy however the most important information for me was in the last 3 paragraphs which said, and I quote:

“How many times have you heard your staff say, 'Charlie, sit down!'” she recounted at the recent meeting to discuss the use of restraints and alarms.

“Now, I want them to say, 'Charlie, why are you standing? What do you need?'”

What this statement tells us is that the home had done a root cause analysis and identified that Charlie has needs that may be unmet; very telling and important information.  As you begin the journey of alarm reduction please remember to identify the causative factors that increase a resident’s risk before eliminating any device that may assist that resident.  As always, if you should have any questions please feel free to contact your HealthCap risk manager for assistance!