SAVIOR ICU: Sonification and Vibrotactile Interface for the Operating Room and Intensive Care Unit

J Clin Monit Comput. 2019 Aug 27. doi: 10.1007/s10877-019-00381-1. Online ahead of print.


Alarm fatigue is an issue for healthcare providers in the intensive care unit, and may result from desensitization of overbearing and under-informing alarms. To directly increase the overall identification of medical alarms and potentially contribute to a downstream decrease in the prevalence of alarm fatigue, we propose advancing alarm sonification by combining auditory and tactile stimuli to create a multisensory alarm. Participants completed four trials-two multisensory (auditory and tactile) and two unisensory (auditory). Analysis compared the unisensory trials to the multisensory trials based on the percentage of correctly identified point of change, direction of change and identity of three physiological parameters (indicated by different instruments): heart rate (drums), blood pressure (piano), blood oxygenation (guitar). A repeated-measures of ANOVA yielded a significant improvement in performance for the multisensory group compared to the unisensory group (p < 0.05). Specifically, the multisensory group had better performance in correctly identifying parameter (p < 0.05) and point of change (p < 0.05) compared to the unisensory group. Participants demonstrated a higher accuracy of identification with the use of multisensory alarms. Therefore, multisensory alarms may relieve the auditory burden of the medical environment and increase the overall quality of care and patient safety.

Keywords: Alarm fatigue; Medical errors/prevention; Multisensory; Noise/adverse effects; Vibrotactile display.