Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I am very concerned about the increase in the use of personal and bed alarms in long term care facilities. In my opinion, we have exchanged physical restraints for psychological restraints in the form of devices that emit an annoying noise when the resident moves.

We say they are valuable to "alert" us. That seems to fall in the category of staff convenience at best as the alarm serves as a means of notification of an incident rather than prevention of an incident.

What about the effect of the alarm on the resident? If it works at all to stop an action it does so by psychological intimidation. An archaic approach at best. Actually an approach that is not sanctioned even when working with possible criminals. Since we never use alarms on alert oriented residents, the problem is simply compounded by the resident's dementia.

So the bottom line is we take a person who already is having problems understanding their environment and make them buzz when they move.

Recently there was an interesting article discussing ALARM FATIGUE for hospital staff members. Take a moment to review the video and the article and then please consider the rampant use of these devices in the care of the elderly.

Simply click on the title of this blog to read the Boston Globe article on ALARM FATIGUE IN HOSPITALS.