Visitor silencing neighboring alarms

  1. 2
    I had patient B, another nurse had patient A. Our tech sucks so I answered a call light (as she sat there doing nothing) that had been going off for 10 minutes. When I go in patient B's visitor tells me patient A's IV pump alarm was going off so she silenced it. I told her not to do it again and checked on patient A. He was very upset, asking if she was authorized to touch pumps, did she do anything she shouldn't have. I assured him no harm came from touching her pump.

    15 minutes later he called saying how uncomfortable he was, wanted his wife called. We ended up calling security, patient A was moved to a private room, doctors called, and the visitor was asked to leave and banned for the night. I even had to write a statement.

    The next day the visitor told the RN that she was sorry and she didn't mean any harm. She has "medical training" which is never good. They always think they know best.

    I at first didn't think it was a big deal but I do get that there are a lot of what ifs. What if she turned it off instead of silencing it, what if it was a critical drip, and so on.

    Have you ever seen anything like this?
    Last edit by PediLove2147 on Aug 23, '12
    lindarn and Joe V like this.
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  3. 48 Comments so far...

  4. 1
    Wow, that IS a big deal. The patient is your responsibility, and she has no right to do that. No wonder the patient was scared. Someone who is not the patient's nurse or doctor helping herself to manage IV pumps? If I were the patient, I probably would have not been so nice. I can't say I've ever had a visitor silence IV pumps; I've had CNAs silence them, but I've politely asked them not to.
    lindarn likes this.
  5. 2
    Did b visitor touch patient a 's alarm? It is not ok for any visitor to touch alarms or equipment ever, it is way too dangerous!!! Harm to the patient is the priority here, but you also need to consider that the nurse is going to get blamed if something goes wrong, and you may never know a visitor has messed with it. Just one more thing to have to check often. Always check your pump settings.
    lindarn and anotherone like this.
  6. 2
    Quote from MJB2010
    Did b visitor touch patient a 's alarm? It is not ok for any visitor to touch alarms or equipment ever, it is way too dangerous!!! Harm to the patient is the priority here, but you also need to consider that the nurse is going to get blamed if something goes wrong, and you may never know a visitor has messed with it. Just one more thing to have to check often. Always check your pump settings.
    Yes! Sorry, I fixed my OP. I couldn't believe she thought it was a good idea to touch her neighbors pump! Sometimes family members of long term patients learn how to silence the alarms but we've never had someone touch the neighboring IV! We thankfully have locks on the pumps so they can't do too much to them.
    barbyann and Not_A_Hat_Person like this.
  7. 2
    There isn't anything you can do about that, other than make your rounds in a timely manner so mistakes like that can be caught.

    You did the right thing by moving the patient, but the "visitor" wouldn't have been banned for the night, they would have been banned, period.

    We used to have parents that used to do the same thing with the alarms for their kids and mroe than once we have had to say, "If you keep touching the monitor, you cannot come back into the unit"...then they said, "But it's my kid"...so we say, "Yes and how would you feel to have a kid in the hospital and not be able to visit?"

    Burns me up.
    Altra and opossum like this.
  8. 6
    Nope, not ok.
    I work in an ICU and we tell parents first thing they CANNOT touch medical equipment...even if they come to us from another hospital where apparently the care was so poor that the parents "were giving all the IV meds and changing the vent settings" (yeah that was an interesting family). Silencing the alarm once will get you a reminder from the RN, silencing it twice will get a meeting with the shift coordinator. Silencing it three times will get you kicked out an unable to visit your kid, that's that.

    Even when we have kids that are medically complex and preparing to go home...we will allow parents to suction their trach/disconnect the vent to do so without us in there but it the vent alarms or the kid desats/alarms for any reason they cannot silence it. Even though we are encouraging all care to be done by the parent in those situations the kiddo is still our responsibility for our shift and saying "well the mom silenced the alarm so I didn't know" is not an acceptable excuse when the kid codes
  9. 10
    I've had it happen before -- I even had a patient silencing her roommate's IV pump one time.

    The visitor who touches their own family member's alarm would get a warning the first time it happened. Second time it happened would get to talk to management. Third time would be removed by security. The visitor who touches someone else's alarm -- out the door and don't come back! That is totally inappropriate!

    Now about the retired nurse with a brain tumor who took the med cart and "passed meds" to half of the floor one night . . . .
  10. 1
    Just FYI --- visitors will also play around with feeding pumps and (my favorite) oxygen concentrators and wall unit O2 flowmeters!! I usually position equip a certain way, so if it's been moved, that's usually a big red flag for me to check settings. And it happens for their own pt and that of the roomie. You need to be vigilant when visitors are present - most are benign but every now and then, you get one who steps out of bounds.
    JustBeachyNurse likes this.
  11. 0
    We've had it happen before that people will mess with pumps, oxygen, drips that are on gravity flow.
    It's easier to check over here as most patients are out in the open ward and staff are around.
  12. 3
    I would have definitely been upset if a visitor of another pt silenced my pt or my alarm as a patient. Should she have been banned after removing the pt from the room? I don't think that was necessary, but you were upset.

    But, I do hate having those individuals with "medical training"...This sometimes include medical billing...Yes, you're qualified to provide pt care(sarcasm)


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