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Boston hospital works to eliminate 'alarm fatigue'

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Boston Medical Center has dramatically cut the number of patient monitor alarms in an effort to eliminate so-called "alarm fatigue," when overwhelmed staff fail to properly respond.

The hospital's efforts could provide a national model for a problem that's blamed for dozens of deaths.

Boston Medical Center last year got rid of many lower-level alarms that didn't require an immediate response, cutting alarms from an average of 88,000 a week to 10,000 a week on a 24-bed cardiac unit. Nurses responded quickly to all alarms, reducing patient risk.

The changes were implemented in all medical and surgical units at BMC, cutting alarms from 1 million a week to 400,000 a week.

The Boston Globe reports that the success is scheduled to appear online Monday in the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing.