A newly designed vital sign monitoring system can improve patient safety in medical and surgical units without an abundance of unnecessary alarms, according to a new study by nurse researchers.
Findings appear in a research brief published Nov. 4 on the website of the Journal of Clinical Nursing. For the study, the monitoring system was installed for four weeks in two medical/surgical units: One in a 49-bed acute care facility in Utah and one in a 175-bed full-service hospital in Alabama.
The monitors displayed oxygen saturation rate, heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood pressure and respiration rate on a central station. Data from the monitors were sent wirelessly to a central server for later analysis of the alarm rates. In the Utah med/surg unit, the system was installed at 16 beds and monitored 123 patients during the study.
In the Alabama med/surg unit, the system was installed at 24 beds and monitored 113 patients. Study results showed each patient was monitored for an average of three days. RNs in each unit logged interventions they performed in response to alerts from the monitoring system. At the end of the study period, the RNs were asked to complete a survey on their experiences with the system. The survey asked whether RNs strongly agreed, agreed, were neutral, disagreed or strongly disagreed with 12 statements about the system. Responses were received from 16 RNs in the Utah unit and from eight in the Alabama unit.
The survey results showed 92% of the nurses agreed the number of alarms and alerts were appropriate, and 54% strongly agreed. The survey also found 100% of the RNs agreed the monitor provided valuable patient data that increased patient safety; 79% strongly agreed. On average, both units experienced 10.8 alarms per patient, per day.
“Continuous vital sign assessment may, in some cases, have initiated nursing interventions that prevented failure-to-rescue events,” the study authors wrote.
“Nurses surveyed unanimously agreed that continuous vital sign surveillance will help enhance patient safety.”The authors also pointed out the study showed it was possible to have continuous assessment of multiple vital signs while still having a “small and appropriate level” of alerts.“We are very excited to be using this advanced technology. Continuous monitoring of our patients is revolutionizing the way we care for our patients,” senior author Pamela Booker, MSN, RN, CNOR, said in a news release.
“Our nurses love the ability to keep a closer eye on their patients, and this system has the ability to notify the nurses when vital signs change, no matter where they are in the hospital.”Study co-authors were Terri Watkins, MSN, RN, and Lynn Whisman BSN, MBA, RN, FACHE. The monitors used in the study were from Sotera Wireless Inc. in San Diego, Calif.
Click here to read the full study.