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Multisensory Alarms to Improve Patient Care and Safety

Primary Investigators:
Joseph J. Schlesinger, MD, FCCM
Molly Bingham, BE (expected May 2022)

Brief Description of Project:
Up to 700 alarms go off per bed, per day in the intensive care unit.1 That means in the best case scenario, a nurse with two patients is forced to decipher over a thousand loud, annoying, melodically ambiguous sounds per day. An estimated 70% of these alarms are non-actionable, “updates” rather than true alarms.2 However, it has been shown that an increased number of hospital alarms slows provider response time to patient needs. Overloaded healthcare workers may opt to mute “unnecessary” alarms, but this introduces a whole host of risks. FDA investigations have found, over the course of only four years, over five hundred deaths associated with alarm mismanagement. Recent efforts have aimed to implement multisensory alarms, meaning they communicate to multiple senses simultaneously (vision, hearing, and touch, in this case). The goal of such a change is to reduce the auditory load on healthcare workers and provide additional information via the haptic (referring to sense of touch) and visual sensing modalities. We have developed an Apple Watch app to give providers complimentary visual and haptic inputs. Additionally, we have created more informative, intuitive auditory alarms and a higher quality, mobile speaker system to improve alarm perception. We are performing a study to evaluate: 1. The efficacy of adding a haptic alert to commonly used visual/auditory alert systems, 2. Response time and accuracy when using novel “icon” alarms, and 3. Whether speaker quality exerts a significant impact on alarm response.

Desired Qualifications:
Experience doing statistical analysis, knowledge of MATLAB and/or R if possible.
Nature of Supervision:
Check-in with PIs at least once a week with additional meetings as needed.
A Brief Research Plan (period is for 10 weeks):
Weeks 1-3: Finish data collection, running study participants.
Weeks 3-6: Analyze reaction time and accuracy data.
Weeks 7-8: Process and analyze user experience survey data.
Weeks 9-10: Summarize results and submit research manuscript for revisions.

Number of Open Slots: 1
Contact Information:
Name: Joseph Schlesinger
Department: Biomedical Engineering