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IV pump alarms - am I the only one?

Nurses   (1,093 Views 14 Comments)
by mi_dreamin mi_dreamin (Member)

mi_dreamin has <1 years experience .

14 Likes; 870 Visitors; 29 Posts

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So I am a baby nurse (graduated in May, NCLEX in June, started orientation July 30th). But I am curious if anyone else had this problem as a new nurse (or still does)...when I leave work I hear IV pumps and call lights going off, usually for a good hour.

I am generally a very un-anxious person, I don't get stressed easily, but sometimes the residual sound of those IV pumps makes me feel on edge.

Advice? Is this normal, do I just wait it out or learn to live with the beeping?

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1,743 Likes; 4 Followers; 17,046 Visitors; 2,529 Posts

Totally normal. So is hearing monitor alarms, pulse ox machines, heart rates and any number of sounds you hear on a regular basis. I have woken up at night convinced that a monitor is alarming in my room!

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mi_dreamin has <1 years experience.

14 Likes; 870 Visitors; 29 Posts

Glad to know it's not just me! Today was an especially obnoxious alarm day as we had a disaster in our area so IV pumps and call lights were not priority number one.

The patient across the hall from my surgery patient was in contact precautions and his IV pump went off at least every half hour. I troubleshooted it, often twice, every time I went to check on my pt.

I feel like IV pumps/call lights is now the background sound track to my life! Lol

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2 Likes; 3,166 Visitors; 380 Posts

Try going to the hospital as a visitor and not being allowed to silence/ stop the alarms. It's a definite circle of hell

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mi_dreamin has <1 years experience.

14 Likes; 870 Visitors; 29 Posts

Oh I know! I try to always fix them when I hear them, but there is always that one pump that goes off a thousand times a shift no matter what you do! One visitor told my preceptor today "just tell me what to do and I'll do it!" (Of course she did not.)

I remember the frustration as a 1st year nursing student and not being allowed to fix the pumps. We were allowed to "silence and notify the nurse," but not troubleshoot *eye roll*

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1,125 Likes; 7 Followers; 21,293 Visitors; 2,691 Posts

Oh I know! I try to always fix them when I hear them, but there is always that one pump that goes off a thousand times a shift no matter what you do!

Hi there -

Although I agree that the issue you originally asked about is common (especially when new nurse/new setting), I wanted to mention that sometimes this is an actual serious safety issue and deserves attention.

Alarm fatigue is a real phenomenon - and quite problematic. The situation you mention above often should involve equipment being tagged for examination by your biomed people with a description of the types of alarms and/or errors it is reporting. You also (if you haven't already) should learn how to adjust your patients' alarm parameters according to their need/condition and what values you wish to be notified of.

I know all of this is so new and you have other learning priorities right now, but seeking out the opportunity to learn about your equipment as soon as you have the chance will be good for your patients and besides that it will save you a load of frustration over the long haul and probably help prioritization/productivity too.

Best wishes ~

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114 Likes; 16,508 Visitors; 1,489 Posts

Well, that is alarming.

It sounds like you work in a typical environment in which no meaningful attempts at reducing alarm fatigue are made.

So do I.

Research has demonstrated that 72% to 99% of clinical alarms are false. The high number of false alarms has led to alarm fatigue. Alarm fatigue is sensory overload when clinicians are exposed to an excessive number of alarms, which can result in desensitization to alarms and missed alarms. Patient deaths have been attributed to alarm fatigue.

This does not have to be the case. I was in visiting an extremely high acuity ICU in England, and was shocked by the slilence. When I asked one of the nurse about it, she explained that they set parameters correctly, and was shocked that we don't.

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226 Likes; 1 Follower; 44,083 Visitors; 2,940 Posts

I used to hear/dream about IV pump alarms in my sleep. I don't anymore, but I can still remember exactly what the IV alarms sounded like from my job 30 years ago.

And I agree with JKL33....of course it takes time, which I know you don't have a lot of. Figure out if the monitor or pump is defective, tag it to go to biomed...or spend 10 to 20 minutes, (which I REALLY know you don't have), and learn how to change or set the parameters on the machines.

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Leader25 has 35 years experience.

62 Likes; 2 Followers; 4,255 Visitors; 667 Posts

Why was the pump not removed and tagged and sent to biomed,it is a liability and if it still alarming and the darn iv is positional do something.

Suggest you read the manual to assist you with trouble shooting,do not take any gruff from Bio med ,send the pump to them as many times as you have to if it not working correctly.

The hospital is required to provide us with reasonably working equipment.

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quiltynurse56 has 3 years experience as a LPN, LVN and works as a PDN Pediatrics.

12,907 Visitors; 949 Posts

You can count me as one who has woken up in the middle of the night hearing call bells and alarms. After a while, you don't do that anymore unless it is a crazy night with lots of them going off.

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Fiona59 has 18 years experience.

17 Likes; 1 Follower; 52,317 Visitors; 8,242 Posts

The demon known as Alaris haunts my dreams. It sings the song of it's tribe when you least expect it.

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Rainbow_RN is a ADN and works as a Staff Nurse.

1 Like; 1,291 Visitors; 67 Posts

Fellow Baby-RN here; the IV pump alarms follow me into my dreams.

Totally normal... if you can call anything about our career "normal".

Normal is a setting on my washing machine.

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