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, 20 (3), 584-9

Medical Audible Alarms: A Review


Medical Audible Alarms: A Review

Judy Edworthy. J Am Med Inform Assoc.


Objectives: This paper summarizes much of the research that is applicable to the design of auditory alarms in a medical context. It also summarizes research that demonstrates that false alarm rates are unacceptably high, meaning that the proper application of auditory alarm design principles are compromised.

Target audience: Designers, users, and manufacturers of medical information and monitoring systems that indicate when medical or other parameters are exceeded and that are indicated by an auditory signal or signals.

Scope: The emergence of alarms as a 'hot topic'; an outline of the issues and design principles, including IEC 60601-1-8; the high incidence of false alarms and its impact on alarm design and alarm fatigue; approaches to reducing alarm fatigue; alarm philosophy explained; urgency in audible alarms; different classes of sound as alarms; heterogeneity in alarm set design; problems with IEC 60601-1-8 and ways of approaching this design problem.

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