Ventilator Alarm Safety

Alarm hazards are number one on the list of Top 10 Health Technology Hazards published by the Emergency Care Research Institute (ECRI). Ventilator disconnections not caught because of mis-set or missed alarms ranks as number five.

“It is still too easy to set alarm limits and parameters incorrectly,” stated Brad Bonnette, health devices product engineer, ECRI at the 2014 AAMI/FDA Summit on Ventilator Technology.

Helping clinicians become competent in setting initial alarms is a special emphasis of IngMar Medical’s  “Initiation of Mechanical Ventilation” Curriculum Module to be released later this summer. Working with the RespiPatient® manikin, learners get hands-on practice setting initial alarms, then adjusting alarms when the patient’s condition changes.

The challenge of learning to set alarms correctly is complicated by the lack of clinical practice guidelines for ventilator alarm settings. Guidelines differ from hospital to hospital and there are even differences between major mechanical ventilation textbooks. This can mean that clinicians need to be trained for each clinical setting.

The settings provided in the simulations are a result of a rigorous review of published values in respected mechanical ventilation textbooks as well as common clinical practice. An overview table of the recommended ventilator settings from the textbooks is provided with the modules and educators can tweak the simulation to teach the values they prefer.