A Brief Analysis of Telemetry–Related Events
Keywords:telemetry, cardiac monitoring, patient safety, alarm management, cardiac arrhythmias, communication, equipment malfunction, monitor technician
Successful telemetry monitoring relies on timely clinician response to potentially life-threatening cardiac rhythm abnormalities. Breakdowns in the processes and procedures associated with telemetry monitoring, as well as improperly functioning telemetry monitoring equipment, may lead to events that compromise patient safety. An analysis of reports submitted to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (PA-PSRS) from January 2014 through December 2018 identified 558 events specifically involving interruptions or failures associated with telemetry monitoring equipment or with the healthcare providers responsible for setting up and maintaining proper functioning of that equipment. The analysis highlighted a steady increase in the quantity of event reports associated with telemetry monitoring submitted to PA-PSRS. User errors accounted for nearly half (47.1%, 263 of 558) of events in the analysis. The most common event subtypes included: errors involving batteries in telemetry monitoring equipment (14.0%); errors in which patients were not connected to telemetry monitoring equipment as ordered (12.9%); errors involving broken, damaged, or malfunctioning telemetry monitoring equipment (10.9%); and errors in which patients were connected to the wrong telemetry monitoring equipment (9.0%).
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