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Opinion: Critical Care Nurses Get News They Can Use

Welcome to the Critical Care Specialty Section, which is packed with news and information tailored to meet your needs.

Our main feature will help you understand and combat the pitfalls of alarm fatigue and desensitization, a phenomenon you’ve heard lots about in the popular press and nursing news this year. For example, after the BP oil well disaster, newspapers reported that managers had directed technicians to partially disable alarms on the well so as not to waken sleeping crew members with false alerts in the middle of the night. A tragedy of enormous magnitude may have been averted if the alarms had been set and heeded.

This year, a fatal incident at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston made nursing and national headlines when a patient awaiting cardiac surgery for a pacemaker developed bradycardia, arrested and died. He had been up and about that morning but was found pulseless in his room soon after, and the code team could not revive him. Hospital officials reported that the volume on his bedside alarm was in the “off” position. Moreover, staff failed to hear alarms at the nurses’ station or note the ECG printout automatically activated by the patient’s rapid and dangerous drop in heart rate. The hospital has since instituted several measures to prevent recurrence of this and similar situations and developed a training program for staff, information you might find useful in your practice setting.

In addition, our top story explores the effects of physical, mental and emotional fatigue related to long hours, extra shifts and lives crammed full with home, school and work responsibilities and associated stress, all of which may contribute to alarm desensitization and other breaches in patient safety.

Also, check out career guru Donna Cardillo’s advice column, as well as responses to your legal questions from expert nurse attorney Nancy Brent.

Through all our publications, online-only stories, CE offerings and the thousands of open positions posted on at, we strive to keep you up-to-date and prepared to protect your patients’ safety, provide quality care and grow your career. We give you a snapshot of the latest advances in nursing and inspire you to delve further into healthcare literature to learn more.

Thank you for your astute attention to detail, ability to face new challenges head-on and constant vigilance.

By | 2020-04-15T14:16:01-04:00 September 17th, 2010|Categories: Nursing Specialties, Specialty|0 Comments

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