Mobilisation alarm triggers, response times and utilisation before and after the introduction of policy for alarm reduction or elimination: A descriptive and comparative analysis

Natasha K. Brusco, Alison M. Hutchinson, Deb Mitchell, Jo Jellett, Leanne Boyd, Melinda Webb-St Mart, Melissa Raymond, Diana Clayton, Allison Farley, Mari Botti, Kate Steen, Mo Duncan, Nicky Cummins, Terry Haines

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Background: Mobilisation alarms are a falls prevention strategy used in hospitals to alert staff when an at risk patient is attempting to mobilise. Mobilisation alarms have an estimated annual cost of $AUD58MIL in Australia. There is growing evidence from randomised controlled trials indicating mobilisation alarms are unlikely to prevent falls. Aim: The primary aim of this study was to describe the rate of mobilisation alarm false triggers and staff response time across different health services. The secondary aim was to compare pre to post mobilisation alarm utilisation following the introduction of policy to reduce or eliminate mobilisation alarms. Methods: This descriptive and comparative study was conducted through Monash Partners Falls Alliance across six health services in Melbourne, Australia. This study described true and false alarm triggers and trigger response times across three health services and usual care mobilisation alarm utilisation across six health services; and then compared alarm utilisation across two health services following the introduction of policy to reduce (<2.5%) or eliminate (0.0%) mobilisation alarms in the acute and rehabilitation settings. Results: The most frequent observation was a false alarm (n = 74, 52%), followed by a true alarm (n = 67, 47%) and no alarm (n = 3, 2%). Time to respond to the true and false alarms was an average of 37 s (SD 92) and this included 61 occasions of 0 s as a member of staff was present when the alarm triggered. If the 61 occasions of staff being present when the alarm triggered were removed, the average time to respond was 65 seconds (SD114). Usual care mobilisation alarm utilisation in acute was 7% (n = 171/2,338) and in rehabilitation was 11% (n = 286/2,623). Introducing policy for reduced and eliminated mobilisation alarm conditions was successful with a reduced utilisation rate of 1.8% (n = 11/609) and an eliminated utilisation rate of 0.0% (n = 0/521). Conclusion: Half of mobilisation alarm triggers are false and when alarms trigger without staff present, staff take about a minute to respond. While usual care has one in fourteen patients in acute and one in nine patients in rehabilitation using a mobilisation alarm, it is possible to introduce policy which will change practice to reduce or eliminate the use of mobilisation alarms, providing evidence of feasibility for future disinvestment effectiveness studies that it is feasible to disinvest in the alarms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103769
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Accidental falls
  • Consumer participation
  • Health services
  • Prevention

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