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Biomedical Engineering / Biomedizinische Technik

Editor-in-Chief: Dössel, Olaf

Editorial Board Member: Augat, Peter / Haueisen, Jens / Jockenhoevel, Stefan / Lenarz, Thomas / Leonhardt, Steffen / Plank, Gernot / Radermacher, Klaus M. / Schkommodau, Erik / Schmitz, Georg / Stieglitz, Thomas / Witte, Herbert / Boenick, Ulrich / Jaramaz, Branislav / Kraft, Marc / Lenthe, Harry / Lo, Benny / Mainardi, Luca / Micera, Silvestro / Penzel, Thomas / Robitzki, Andrea A. / Schaeffter, Tobias / Snedeker, Jess G. / Sörnmo, Leif / Sugano, Nobuhiko / Werner, Jürgen / Wintermantel, Erich /


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Volume 57 (2012)

Medical device alarms

Matthias Borowski1, a / Matthias Görges2, a / Roland Fried1 / Olaf Such3 / Christian Wrede4 / 5

1Technische Universität Dortmund, Dortmund, Germany

2University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

3Philips Medical, DA Best, The Netherlands

4Helios Klinikum Berlin-Buch, Berlin, Germany

5Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Bochum, Germany

aMatthias Borowski and Matthias Görges contributed equally to this manuscript.

Corresponding author: Prof. Dr. med. Michael Imhoff, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Biomedizinische Technik im VDE, Fachausschuss Methodik der Patientenüberwachung, Abteilung für Medizinische Informatik, Biometrie und Epidemiologie, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitätsstraße 150, 44801 Bochum, Germany Phone: +49-231-9730220

Citation Information: Biomedizinische Technik/Biomedical Engineering. Volume 56, Issue 2, Pages 73–83, ISSN (Online) 1862-278X, ISSN (Print) 0013-5585, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bmt.2011.005, March 2011

Publication History

Received:
2010-11-01
Accepted:
2011-02-16
Published Online:
2011-03-03

Abstract

The high number of false positive alarms has long been known to be a serious problem in critical care medicine – yet it remains unresolved. At the same time, threats to patient safety due to missing or suppressed alarms are being reported. The purpose of this paper is to present results from a workshop titled “Too many alarms? Too few alarms?” organized by the Section Patient Monitoring and the Workgroup Alarms of the German Association of Biomedical Engineering of the Association for Electrical, Electronic and Information Technologies. The current situation regarding alarms and their problems in intensive care, such as lack of clinical relevance, alarm fatigue, workload increases due to clinically irrelevant alarms, usability problems in alarm systems, problems with manuals and training, and missing alarms due to operator error are outlined, followed by a discussion of solutions and strategies to improve the current situation. Finally, the need for more research and development, focusing on signal quality considerations, networking of medical devices at the bedside, diagnostic alarms and predictive warnings, usability of alarm systems, education of healthcare providers, creation of annotated clinical databases for testing, standardization efforts, and patient monitoring in the regular ward, are called for.

Keywords: alarm systems; equipment design; intensive care unit; noise prevention and control; physiologic monitoring; safety management

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