The response of theatre personnel to the pulse oximeter alarm
DOI: 10.1080/22201173.2012.10872834
Title: The response of theatre personnel to the pulse oximeter alarm
Journal Title: Southern African Journal of Anaesthesia and Analgesia
Volume: Volume 18
Issue: Issue 2
Publication Date: March 2012
Start Page: 101
End Page: 104
Published online: 12 Aug 2014
ISSN: 2220-1181
Author: AR Raha MBBChBAO(Ireland), MMed(Anaes), AM(Malaysia) Associate Professor/Consultant Anaesthesiologista*, A Aswad MMed(Anaes) Anaesthesiologistb, M Muhammad FRCA Consultant Anaesthesiologista, I Azarinah MMed(Anaes) Consultant Anaesthesiologista & Y Nurlia MMed(Anaes) Consultant Anaesthesiologista
a Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan, Malaysia
b Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, Hospital Sultanah Aminah, Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
Abstract: Background: False alarms and sounds in the operating theatre (OT) that alert personnel to a crisis can be irritating. This can result in personnel ignoring genuine alarm warnings. This study was carried out to determine how alert OT personnel are in response to the pulse oximeter alarm.Method: For the purposes of the study, 144 elective and 126 emergency cases, comprising 189 general anaesthesia and 81 regional anaesthesia cases, were included. After ensuring that the patients were physiologically stable, a false pulse oximeter alarm was activated. No other alarms were triggered. The first person to respond, time taken to respond, and the mode of action taken, were recorded. If no action resulted, the alarm was terminated a minute later.Results: The anaesthesiologist was the most alert (p-value < 0.05), with a median time taken to respond of nine (4–14) seconds. The emergency OT personnel were significantly more alert than the elective OT personnel, with a p-value of < 0.001. The level of readiness was similar in both general anaesthesia and regional anaesthesia cases [9.5 seconds (4.014.05) vs. 10 seconds (5–15)]. In 53% of cases, the first person to respond attended to the patients; in 30.7% of cases, they checked the monitor; and in 5.6% of cases, the pulse oximeter alarm was deactivated. The pulse oximeter alarm was ignored, and no action taken, in 10.7% of cases.Conclusion: The anaesthesiologists were the most alert in responding to the pulse oximetry alarm, although, alarmingly, no action was taken in 10.7% of cases.
Accepted: 1 Dec 2011

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