Telemetry alarms involving traditional on-site monitoring rarely alter management and often miss serious events, sometimes resulting in death. Poor patient selection contributes to a high alarm volume with low clinical yield.
To evaluate outcomes associated with an off-site central monitoring unit (CMU) applying standardized cardiac telemetry indications using electronic order entry.
Design, Setting, and Participants
All non–intensive care unit (ICU) patients at Cleveland Clinic and 3 regional hospitals over 13 months between March 4, 2014, and April 4, 2015.
An off-site CMU applied standardized cardiac telemetry when ordered for standard indications, such as for known or suspected tachyarrhythmias or bradyarrhythmias.
Main Outcomes and Measures
CMU detection and notification of rhythm/rate alarms occurring 1 hour or less prior to emergency response team (ERT) activation, direct CMU-to-ERT notification outcomes, total telemetry census, and cardiopulmonary arrests in comparison with the previous 13 months.
The CMU received electronic telemetry orders for 99 048 patients (main campus, 72 199 [73%]) and provided 410 534 notifications (48% arrhythmia/hemodynamic) among 61 nursing units. ERT activation occurred among 3243 patients, including 979 patients (30%) with rhythm/rate changes occurring 1 hour or less prior to the ERT activation. The CMU detected and provided accurate notification for 772 (79%) of those events. In addition, the CMU provided discretionary direct ERT notification for 105 patients (ventricular tachycardia, n = 44; pause/asystole, n = 36; polymorphic ventricular tachycardia/ventricular fibrillation, n = 14; other, n = 11), including advance warning of 27 cardiopulmonary arrest events (26%) for which return of circulation was achieved in 25 patients (93%). Telemetry standardization was associated with a mean 15.5% weekly census reduction in the number of non-ICU monitored patients per week when compared with the prior 13-month period (580 vs 670 patients; mean difference, −90 patients [95% CI, −82 to −99]; P < .001). The number of cardiopulmonary arrests was 126 in the 13 months preintervention and 122 postintervention.
Conclusions and Relevance
Among non–critically ill patients, use of standardized cardiac telemetry with an off-site central monitoring unit was associated with detection and notification of cardiac rhythm and rate changes within 1 hour prior to the majority of ERT activations, and also with a reduction in the census of monitored patients, without an increase in cardiopulmonary arrest events.