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Artificial Intelligence Technologies for Coping with Alarm Fatigue in Hospital Environments Because of Sensory Overload: Algorithm Development and Validation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Chrystinne Oliveira Fernandes, Simon Miles, Carlos José Pereira De Lucena, Donald Cowan

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15406
Pages (from-to)e15406
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number11
Early online date26 Nov 2019
Accepted/In press17 Oct 2019
E-pub ahead of print26 Nov 2019
PublishedNov 2019

King's Authors


BACKGROUND: Informed estimates claim that 80% to 99% of alarms set off in hospital units are false or clinically insignificant, representing a cacophony of sounds that do not present a real danger to patients. These false alarms can lead to an alert overload that causes a health care provider to miss important events that could be harmful or even life-threatening. As health care units become more dependent on monitoring devices for patient care purposes, the alarm fatigue issue has to be addressed as a major concern for the health care team as well as to enhance patient safety. OBJECTIVE: The main goal of this paper was to propose a feasible solution for the alarm fatigue problem by using an automatic reasoning mechanism to decide how to notify members of the health care team. The aim was to reduce the number of notifications sent by determining whether or not to group a set of alarms that occur over a short period of time to deliver them together, without compromising patient safety. METHODS: This paper describes: (1) a model for supporting reasoning algorithms that decide how to notify caregivers to avoid alarm fatigue; (2) an architecture for health systems that support patient monitoring and notification capabilities; and (3) a reasoning algorithm that specifies how to notify caregivers by deciding whether to aggregate a group of alarms to avoid alarm fatigue. RESULTS: Experiments were used to demonstrate that providing a reasoning system can reduce the notifications received by the caregivers by up to 99.3% (582/586) of the total alarms generated. Our experiments were evaluated through the use of a dataset comprising patient monitoring data and vital signs recorded during 32 surgical cases where patients underwent anesthesia at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. We present the results of our algorithm by using graphs we generated using the R language, where we show whether the algorithm decided to deliver an alarm immediately or after a delay. CONCLUSIONS: The experimental results strongly suggest that this reasoning algorithm is a useful strategy for avoiding alarm fatigue. Although we evaluated our algorithm in an experimental environment, we tried to reproduce the context of a clinical environment by using real-world patient data. Our future work is to reproduce the evaluation study based on more realistic clinical conditions by increasing the number of patients, monitoring parameters, and types of alarm.

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