darn bed alarms

Nurses Safety


This is just a vent,but I am sooo frustrated

It seems we have more confused people than ever who require bed alarms. They cannot,or will not, use the call lights. So when their alarm goes off, we LITERALLY RUN to their room in the hopes of catching them as they are getting out of bed We before they fall.

Q 1 hour room checks are not going to change this. Some of these people have no idea why they are getting up. It doesn't matter if they were up five minutes ago. But they are a risk to themselves, and we are responsible for it.

The thing that makes me angry, is that if I have a pt on drips,or am in the middle of passing meds, or doing some kind of task, I have to STOP right there and run out of the room. We are getting dinged bigtime for anyone falling- even if they just slide or are helped to the floor( even if there are mats)It's one thing if it's a pt or two. But lately, we could literally have half or more of teh floor on the alarms.We all run like chickens with our heads cut off. It seems the alarms are more important than the sicker patients!!!

ok I'm done ranting. Just feel that I am danged if I do or danged if idont.

what do dementia units do?? roll the pts in bubble wrap? ughh.


22 Posts

Hire more CNAs to respond to the alarms so that the nurses don't have to.

Specializes in PCCN.
Hire more CNAs to respond to the alarms so that the nurses don't have to.

I wish!!! sometimes we only have 1-2 on the floor for 28 acute care pts, and at least one gets pulled for 1:1 suicide watch, etc :(

more cnas would alleviate this.....or certainly help with this.

Specializes in LTC Rehab Med/Surg.

Just another unreasonable expectation in an industry fast approaching lunacy.

Bubble wrap would make more sense than what we're doing now.

Is the personal alarm designed to take the place of a person?

The alarm can signal, "HELLO" "WE NEED HELP IN HERE" "I'M UP AND I'M GOING TO FALL". But if there's no staff to run, what do you do?

On a personal note. If I'm in the middle of dispensing meds, every alarm on the floor could go off and I wouldn't leave the room I'm in. If it's a toss up between a med error and a fall, it's CYA time.

I keep editing and adding because this thread hits so close to home.


130 Posts

Specializes in CWON - Certified Wound and Ostomy Nurse.

This is possibly a silly question but are the call lights checked daily to ensure they work? I've had multiple times as of late where I go in to see a patient, need assistance, try the call light(s) and nothing. Do you have sitters available to you for those who continually try to get out of bed?

Specializes in ICU.

Personally, I love the bed alarms. Whatever I am doing is generally not as important as someone potentially falling and breaking a hip or back, or worse. I haven't worked in a hospital that will pay someone to sit with a 1:1 or suicide patient in a long, long time. I can't even imagine that luxury. We put our suicide watches in ICU. They still won't be 1:1, but can be watched better.

Try actually working dementia unit with all pts who should be on bed alarms and your facility switch to "alarm free with 15 mins checks". So beyond stupid. Or before when we had bed alarms and be told "there is a max that each facility can have and we have hit max allowed by state." so tons of pts that needed didn't get them


2 Posts

I am an LNA (RN student as well) at a long term care facility where we have over 90 dementia patients. Even with 14 LNAs staffed 7-3, 11 staffed 3-11 and 8 staffed 11-7 it is amazing how hard it is to react to residents and their alarms. Just this week we caught a resident trying to escape into the stair well. And many of these alarms are luckily false alarms (the resident rolls over too quick in bed or leans too far forward in their chair). The problem is also that most falls occur with the dementia patients who are still physically capable and they remove their TABS themselves, so they remove the alarm and then later fall and we don't know because the alarm doesn't go off! I agree with the post from "imintrouble" if you are in the middle of dispensing meds and an alarm goes off you are better off to stay and continue passing the meds or whatever you need to do. There are other nursing on the floor who are closer to the patient or more able to get to them. A medical error, medicinal error, etc on your part is much more serious to your career and that patients safety than if you are not the first RN to respond. What if your patient chokes on the meds while you are away? Or you are in a hurry and forget or mix up meds? And lastly, I agree your facility should staff more LNAs (:

I understand CYA on med errors but what happens if you could've responded but didn't and everyone else is tied up as well? What if the pt hits the floor and dies of a cerebral bleed in the end? Not sure I could deal with that either. Believe me, a sentinel event is no small deal and it gets thoroughly investigated.

I understand your frustration. We usually have 26 acute care patients and all are high fall risks. Almost all have dementia or tend to sundown. It's RARE that we have a self-care patient. I've been on this unit for 3 years and I've probably only had 2 patients that were NOT high-fall risks and didn't require a bed alarm. Combine that with 3 nurses and 1-2 PCT's....it's awful! I wish we had more staff because we've been averaging about 5 falls a month. Last year we had MAJOR life changing injuries with two falls. Scary. We've informed management of the issues. Their response? "Nothing we can do, we wrote in our policy that the most people we can have staffed on the unit at night is 5." (3 nurses, 2 techs....and if more than that is scheduled some gets called off.)


2,107 Posts

Just do what you can. You can't keep people from falling. If you want to prevent fall-related injuries, you have to make the surface they're falling on softer. That's the best you can do.

I worked in LTC, then on an acute geriatric unit, then in Med-Surg, and now in ICU. Patients are going to fall, no matter how many loud noises you throw at them. Startling them with the alarm usually makes it worse and makes them trip when they weren't going to.

You just respond to the alarms you can without compromising your other patients' safety. It's better to have one person fall and get injured than to add in another patient injury from a med error.

The alarm system itself is flawed. Studies need to be done and processes need to be changed. Once the statistics get truly alarming, hopefully solutions will be found.


112 Posts

We have volunteers that go through training. We get students that need to do volunteer hours come through. I'm in ICU so it's a bit different. But the med surg floor has tons of volunteers. Our hospital partnered up with the nursing colleges. The nursing students get there volunteer hours and it's a way to network with other RNs, managers, and be able to make your face known.

Sent from my iPad using allnurses.com

+ Add a Comment

By using the site, you agree with our Policies. X