Society of Pediatric Nurses

1 Thing Nurses and Patients Should Question

Released December 1, 2022

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    Don’t apply continuous cardiac-respiratory or pulse oximetry monitoring to children and adolescents admitted to the hospital unless condition warrants continuous monitoring based on objectively scored cardiovascular, respiratory, and behavior parameters.

    Nurses use continuous electrocardiography (ECG), respiratory, and pulse oximetry monitoring to track patient vital signs and trends, and to help identify signs of patient status deterioration. However, when pulse oximetry and physiologic monitoring are used inappropriately, significant cost burdens can affect the entire healthcare system. In addition, the high number of alarm alerts and level of noise created by these alarms leads to alarm fatigue. When high levels of false alarms occur in the work environment, clinically significant alarms may be masked by being silenced or unrecognized when clinicians become desensitized. In addition to alarm fatigue, continuous bedside monitoring of pediatric patients can provide a false sense of security that the patient is “safer” and that the nurse will note status changes in a patient more easily when a bedside monitor is used. Continuous bedside monitoring should not be used in place of hourly safety checks. Focused nursing assessments using a standardized early warning tool should be used to monitor changes in a pediatric patient’s status to identify deteriorations.

These items are provided solely for informational purposes and are not intended as a substitute for consultation with a health professional. Patients with any specific questions about the items on this list or their individual situation should consult their physician or nurse.

The Society of Pediatric Nurses (SPN) represents a worldwide network of over 3,500 pediatric nurses across 28 specializations from across the United States and across the world. The society provides educational resources, practice resources, publications, events, seminars, industry data and research and networking opportunities that are developed specifically for those within the pediatric nursing industry and help to support job excellence and success in their practice setting. For more information, please visit

How This List Was Created

SPN initially reached out to several subject matter experts to learn about topic areas where they were aware of both evidence of overuse of health care resources and evidence-based resources to support addressing that overuse. SPN then chose two experts with research experience within the topic area we identified. One served as the main author while the other served as the reviewer. After the initial review was completed, we shared the content with the SPN Board of Directors for further input. Finally, colleagues at the American Academy of Nursing provided a final review.


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