Hospital alarms may put patients at risk

New York patients may be interested to hear that the large number of alarms in hospitals may actually put patients at risk. According to the report, medical malpractice may occur as hospital staff become desensitized to the constant noises made by machinery. This alarm fatigue could be potentially fatal, particularly as these machines are designed to alarm the staff in the case of an emergency.

In many cases, most of the alarms are false alarms and require no action on the part of hospital staff. These alarms are often muted to avoid distraction. One family, however, lost their 17-year-old daughter after a muted alarm failed to warn hospital staff that she needed emergency medical assistance. The teen had undergone a tonsillectomy before being given a painkiller that slowed her breathing and causing irreversible brain damage. She ultimately died and the family won a $6 million settlement.

A number of other patients have died due to alarms that were not responded to. In one case, an elderly woman died after her heart-rate monitor sounded an alarm for several minutes before hospital staff responded. The nurse responsible reportedly could not hear or see the alarm as the technician responsible for overseeing the alarms at the central station had been cut. In another case, a patient fell out of bed, resulting in the disconnection of his cardiac electrodes. He was found one-half hour later and the staff could not resuscitate him.

Those who are injured due to the negligence of hospital staff may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. A New York attorney may be able to help victims by representing them in any negotiations or settlements. In some cases, the attorney may be able to help obtain compensation for any unnecessary injuries or deaths that occurred due to negligence.

Source: Washington Post, "Too much noise from hospital alarms poses risk for patients", Lena H. Sun, July 07, 2013

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