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The Boston Globe

Metro

Sept. 21, 2011

‘Alarm fatigue’ a factor in 2d hospital death

UMass hospital cited for violations

The second patient death in four years involving “alarm fatigue’’ at UMass Memorial Medical Center has pushed the hospital to intensify efforts to prevent nurses from tuning out monitor warning alarms.

Nurses exposed to a cacophony of beeps may no longer hear them or begin to ignore them, and that’s what appears to have happened in the latest case: A 60-year-old man died in an intensive care unit after alarms signaling a fast heart rate and potential breathing problems went unanswered for nearly an hour, according to state investigators who reviewed records at the hospital.

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