Nursing student helps develop clinical alarm testing plan

San Antonio (Jan. 14, 2004) – Wesley Richardson, a graduate nursing student at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, worked with Methodist Healthcare System staff to develop and implement a program that will test the clinical alarm systems on which hospitalized patients rely.
The program, to be implemented this month throughout the Methodist system, is a clinical alarm system testing program that assesses risk and tests the efficacy of the Methodist clinical alarm systems. Clinical alarms are any alarms that serve to protect the patient, alert the staff to a problem or signal that the patient is in need. Some examples of clinical alarms include intravenous pumps (IV pumps), ventilators and patient monitors in the intensive care unit, and patient-activated alarms such as the nurse-call systems used to call for a nurse. A clinical alarm system includes the equipment, the staff, the environment and any other variables that may affect that particular unit, such as remote alarms that can only be heard at the nurses’ station.

Richardson, working with a team from Methodist, developed a testing process to assess the interaction between the individual clinical alarm, the staff response and the environment as it affects the effectiveness of the clinical alarm. The main goal was to develop a program that would raise staff awareness, promote patient safety and ultimately protect the patient from harm.

Richardson participated in this development team as part of his practicum in the course “Nursing 5561, Advanced Nursing Practicum in Policy and Management,” taught by Mickey Parsons, Ph.D., associate professor in the department of acute nursing care, School of Nursing.

“Wesley’s preceptors have all considered him to be one of the best graduate students they have ever worked with, and his project is outstanding. It is an example of why the master’s degree in nursing administration is so important – applying quantitative and qualitative data in problem-solving critical patient care problems,” Dr. Parsons said.

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