"Turn it off!": diabetes device alarm fatigue considerations for the present and the future

J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2013 May 1;7(3):789-94. doi: 10.1177/193229681300700324.


Safe and widespread use of diabetes technology is constrained by alarm fatigue: when someone receives so many alarms that he or she becomes less likely to respond appropriately. Alarm fatigue and related usability issues deserve consideration at every stage of alarm system design, especially as new technologies expand the potential number and complexity of alarms. The guiding principle should be patient wellbeing, while taking into consideration the regulatory and liability issues that sometimes contribute to building excessive alarms. With examples from diabetes devices, we illustrate two complementary frameworks for alarm design: a "patient safety first" perspective and a focus on human factors. We also describe opportunities and challenges that will come with new technologies such as remote monitoring, adaptive alarms, and ever-closer integration of glucose sensing with insulin delivery.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring
  • Clinical Alarms / adverse effects*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood*
  • Fatigue
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / prevention & control
  • Hypoglycemia / prevention & control
  • Insulin Infusion Systems*