5 Tips for Getting Alert Fatigue Under Control

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What Is Alert Fatigue, and Why Should I Care?
Alert fatigue, or pager fatigue, is something that can drastically reduce even the most seasoned team’s ability to respond to incidents. This is the effect of receiving too many alerts, either because there are simply too many incidents occurring, or because your monitoring is picking up on insignificant issues and notifying you for things that do not require your attention (also known as alert noise). This can lower your team’s cognitive ability and capacity, making incident response a slow, difficult process. It can also lead your team to ignore crucial alerts, resulting in major incidents going unresolved or unnoticed until it’s too late.
A good parallel for understanding alert fatigue during an on-call rotation is that of the medical community. Reports have been written on the danger of allowing alerts to run your team. In an article in the Journal of Graduate Medical Education, Jess L. Rush et al states, “A large number of irrelevant alerts may result in alert fatigue… which may result in critical warnings being missed. The ECRI Institute, a nonprofit medical safety organization, listed alert fatigue as a top technology hazard. The consequences are illustrated when a child received 38 times the normal dose of an antibiotic largely due to this information being overshadowed by several clinically inconsequential alerts.”

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