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Using Formal Computational Techniques to Make Medical Alarms Safer

The volume and auditory properties of medical alarms can produce situations to where medical personnel cannot hear and properly respond to these alarms.

The failure of humans to respond to auditory medical alarms has resulted in numerous patient injuries and deaths and is thus a major safety concern. Dr. Bolton is leading an AHRQ-sponsored project to use a novel computational technique to identify how auditory medical alarms described in the IEC 60601-1-8 international standard can interact in ways that can make alarms unhearable. He and his team are constructing tools engineers can use to design alarms that avoid these problems. By ensuring that standard-compliant medical alarms are perceivable, humans will be more likely to respond to them and thus prevent patient death and injury. Learn more