Excessive numbers of clinical alarms in the intensive care unit (ICU) contribute to alarm fatigue. Efforts to eliminate unnecessary alarms, including during end of life (EOL) care, are pivotal. This study describes electrocardiographic (ECG) arrhythmia alarm usage following the decision for comfort care. We conducted a review of electronic health records (EHR) in patients who died and had comfort care orders that were in place during our study. The occurrences of ECG arrhythmia alarms among these patients were examined. We found 151 arrhythmia alarms that were generated in 11 patients after comfort care was initiated: 72% were audible, 21% were manually muted, and 7% had an unknown audio label. Level of alarm: 33% crisis, 58% warning, 1% message, and 8% were labeled unknown. Our report shows that ECG monitoring was commonly maintained during the EOL care. Since the goal of care during this phase is for both patient and family comfort, it is important for the clinicians to weigh the benefits versus harms of the continuous ECG monitoring.
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