By Amanda Anderson, a critical care nurse and graduate student in New York City currently doing a graduate placement at AJN.
“Will you please silence that alarm?!” The nurse is on the phone, and can’t reach the screaming cardiac monitor. It’s a normal request, considering that we’re working together in an ICU and the alarm has been ringing for awhile.
But her request for silencing the alarm isn’t issued to me; she’s talking to the unit clerk. Stuck in my patient’s room, I watch as this untrained staff member taps the flashing rectangle on the unit’s central monitor. Without having first been appropriately evaluated, the ringing disappears, along with the words “Multifocal PVCs.”
Later, the same unit clerk absentmindedly turns off a sounding alarm, without encouragement from a nurse. I’m floating today, and although I’ve just met her, I can’t help but ask, “Do you know what that alarm was saying? Was it accurate?”
She is clearly startled by my admonishment, but I persist. “A lot of the alarms around here do seem to be false, but what if this one wasn’t? Do you have the training to know the difference, and to report it?”
If looks could kill, the one that meets my gaze is certainly homicidal, but it’s paired with a grumbled promise to never touch the screen again. So maybe my point has stuck. Read the rest of this entry ?