Believe it or not, the history of nurse call dates back to the mid-1800s. During the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale, known as the founder of modern nursing, realized patients needed a way to ring for nurses. She remembered how the wealthy rang bells to summon servants in affluent homes, and envisioned a similar concept for nurses and patients. In a letter to an acquaintance, Nightingale wrote, “Without a system of this kind, a nurse is converted into a pair of legs for running up [and] down the stairs.” 1
Topics: Nurse Call
Clinicians understand the value of a next-generation nurse call system because they’re the staff members who actually use the technology. However, nurse executives with the power to drive decision-making around purchasing a new nurse call system may have limited knowledge of the clinical challenges caused by outdated nurse call technologies.
Both the Institute of Medicine and The Joint Commission recommend that healthcare organizations model their care strategies after those of high-reliability industries such as aviation, nuclear facilities and military operations. One of those strategies is situational awareness, a concept that means you have a clear understanding of what’s going on around you and how to use that information to mitigate risk. While situational awareness is still not a commonly used term in the healthcare industry, it is gaining traction as more clinicians and industry leaders understand the link between awareness and clinical decision-making.
Healthcare isn’t as safe as it should be—a 2016 study from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine estimates that more than 250,000 people in the United States die from preventable medical errors, making it the third-leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer.
This estimate is much larger than the Institute of Medicine study in 1999, which claimed that nearly 100,000 patients die from medical errors each year, and which kicked off the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s “100,000 Lives Campaign” national patient safety movement. The difference is that medical errors are often not identified on death certificates as the primary cause of death. Even though value-based care is designed to reduce errors, acute care hospitals often respond to, rather than predict and prevent, events, according to a report published in the journal Hospital Pediatrics.
At Amplion, we care about ensuring our customers are successful. While we build state-of-the-art technology, what we really sell is positive outcomes. That’s why we created the Clinical Integration and Outcomes (CIAO) team. We leverage our more than 35 years of hands-on clinical experience to help you determine what’s working well in your hospital and identify areas for improvement.
It doesn’t take much effort to learn how frustrated clinicians are with the traditional nurse call system. Just type “nurse call system problems” into Google’s search engine, and you’ll get more than 55 million results in a matter of seconds. For years, nurse call systems have been trapped in the past. The traditional nurse call system—a complex system of electrical wiring based on technology from the 1970s—is typically unintelligent and outdated, creating alerts without context. Alerts are often delivered without enough information to properly respond.. Traditional technology is basically an “all call” to anyone and everyone. These non-specific alerting events can lead to alarm fatigue, which occurs when clinicians are exposed to an excessive amount of alarms. Alarm fatigue often results in desensitization and even missed alarms.
Clinical alarms were designed with the best of intentions—to alert clinicians about patient emergencies or changes in patient conditions. Most bedside medical devices, such as monitors, infusion pumps and ventilators, are alarm-equipped, but the lack of interoperability among these devices means multiple noises per patient room. Depending on the hospital unit, the number of clinical alerts per patient per day can result in thousands of alarm signals on every unit and tens of thousands throughout the hospital. The inevitable result? Alarm fatigue. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) defines alarm fatigue as “sensory overload when clinicians are exposed to an excessive number of alarms, which can result in desensitization to alarms and missed alarms.”
In May 2017, there were 2.9 million registered nurses working in the United States, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But that’s not enough to meet future demand, experts say. The BLS estimates that the employment of registered nurses is projected to grow by 15 percent from 2016 to 2026—faster than all other occupations. Why? Not only is the healthcare industry putting more emphasis on preventive care, but the aging baby boomer population and growing rates of chronic conditions are further driving the demand for healthcare. Nurses are also getting older and retiring, and fewer people are entering the profession. Those new to the nursing workforce report a significant level of workplace stress, and surveys of newly licensed hospital nurses reveal that 43 percent leave their jobs within three years of employment.