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The Case of the Mysterious Alarm…

I received this email from a dear friend of mine recently:

Hey everyone!

So,  for the last 2 1/2 weeks my husband and I have been seranaded with alarm tones every day.  We thought it was the new alarm system we had installed (it does a lot of automatic things we have since disabled), then we thought it was the smoke detectors…a new ringtone on our iPhone?… the battery charger on his new bike…his computer when his e-mail was hijacked?…the battery on my bike mileage computer?…my new alarm clock?…the refrigerator ice maker?…the clothes dryer? …everyday we checked everything, and everyday we thought we had found and fixed the culprit, until the next morning when we would hear it again!

It was not until yesterday morning when we figured it out… can you guess?

It was coming from my husband’s chest!  The battery on his pacemaker/AICD was alarming to let us know that he was just about out of juice!  Four years ago they told us we would hear that when the battery got low, but that was a very long time ago…and it just didn’t sound like it was coming from him!  We sent a modem transmission, and the doctor called back to say, “come on in!”

After talking with my friend later, I found out that her husband had his pacemaker replaced and all is well.  It took about 2 weeks to figure out where the alarm was coming from, since it only sounded once a day and only for about 20 seconds at that.  My friend expressed disbelief that it was so hard to determine that it was coming from her husband but surmised that going through body tissues helped the sound disperse enough to make it a mystery!

This left me wondering if any of Dr. Wes’ patients have had similar trouble with figuring out that their chests were alarming!

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This is a fairly common occurrence – I’ve had people buy new watches or a new alarm clock after INSISTING to the sales clerk that their device was malfunctioning when, in actuality, it was THEIR device that was the problem. Good times in EP!

That sounds like a poor design. If it went off every 12 hours, your friend’s husband would’ve figured it out sooner because he wouldn’t have always been at home when it went off.

Kinda makes you wonder about all the lawsuits for AIcDs failure

Well thats VERY luck that you found out where the alarm was coming from in time!.

I get serenaded by alarms everday as well, but its normally car alarms as people get up to go to work, it drives me mad!

Agree with Finn. I think BID chimes would get more attention.

Wow, I agree with the poor design comments. I mean, even though you know it can happen, four years later, it’s not like it’s something that will twig right away.

I really love reading your blogs.
-Hawaiian Mike

Sounds like these patients needed more education on what to expect from their devices. Maybe it should vibrate instead of alarm. :)

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  • profileI am Gina. I have been a nurse for 15 years, first in med/surg, then CVICU, inpatient dialysis, CCU and now hospice. This blog is about my experiences as a nurse, and the experiences of others in the healthcare system - patients, nurses, doctors, paramedics. We all have stories!

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