False alarms and overmonitoring: Major factors in alarm fatigue among labor nurses

Kathleen Rice Simpson, Audrey Lyndon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Nurses can be exposed to hundreds of alarms during their shift, contributing to alarm fatigue. Purpose: The purposes were to explore similarities and differences in perceptions of clinical alarms by labor nurses caring for generally healthy women compared with perceptions of adult intensive care unit (ICU) and neonatal ICU nurses caring for critically ill patients and to seek nurses' suggestions for potential improvements. Methods: Nurses were asked via focus groups about the utility of clinical alarms from medical devices. Results: There was consensus that false alarms and too many devices generating alarms contributed to alarm fatigue, and most alarms lacked clinical relevance. Nurses identified certain types of alarms that they responded to immediately, but the vast majority of the alarms did not contribute to their clinical assessment or planned nursing care. Conclusions: Monitoring only those patients who need it and only those physiologic values that are warranted, based on patient condition, may decrease alarm burden.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-72
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Nursing Care Quality
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • alarm fatigue
  • clinical alarms
  • electronic fetal monitoring
  • labor nurses
  • nurses
  • physiologic monitoring alarms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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