1. Cutting the cost of false ECG alarms
3M Health Care
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    Cutting the cost of false ECG alarms

    September 23, 2016
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    Cutting the cost of false ECG alarms

    A recent study carried out in the USA found that as many as 99 per cent of electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring alarms were false and didn’t need any nursing intervention.

    Cutting the cost of false ECG alarms

    A recent study carried out in the USA found that as many as 99 per cent of electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring alarms were false and didn’t need any nursing intervention.

    Cutting the cost of false ECG alarms

    A recent study carried out in the USA found that as many as 99 per cent of electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring alarms were false and didn’t need any nursing intervention.

    • False alarms

      The average patient connected to an ECG monitoring alarm generates 195 alarms a day, taking up valuable nursing time as the patient’s condition has to be checked each time.

      With as many as 99 per cent of alarms proving false, this is not only wasting hours of nursing time but increasing costs for each hospital by tens of thousands of pounds every year.

      A 3M Biomedical Electrodes Programme has been created by J Peter Robinson, the Western Europe market development manager for Biomedical Electrodes and Clinical Services, to show staff in UK hospitals how to avoid having so many false alarms.

      “When we start to look at nuisance ECG alarms it is very easy to see that the actual cost of patient monitoring is intrinsically linked to the quality of the electrode in use and the way that it is used,” J Peter explained.

      “False alarms can be caused by a patient just turning over to reach for a glass of water, but they can’t be ignored and a typical nurse is spending close to one hour per patient per day responding to alarms.

      “We have a real nursing shortage in this country and if we can help prevent false alarms through a few simple steps, then we can help give hundreds of hours of nursing time back to hospitals.”

      One major factor in false alarms is electrodes not being properly applied, so an important feature of the programme is advising how the skin should be prepped with hair removal and abrasion and by avoiding alcohol-based cleansers.

      “Due to the significant financial pressures faced by the NHS, there’s a widespread tendency to select products primarily based on unit cost, but this can be a false economy,” said J Peter.

      “The reality is that the increased time spent dealing with the results of low quality products and lack of training can cost many times more than the products themselves.”

      It is calculated that a hospital following the programme could reduce false alarms by some 77 per cent, saving 1,273 hours of nursing time a year for a single 10-bed unit and cutting annual costs by tens of thousands of pounds.

      J Peter said: “We think carefully about the patient care pathway when positioning our product and want customers to understand that when they partner with 3M they don’t just buy electrodes, they choose years of product knowledge and a complete understanding of the clinical needs that the products must meet and address.

      “We will help customers audit and measure their services to better meet the needs of their patients as well as helping them greatly reduce costs, improve quality and deliver service benefits.”

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