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Efforts to create smarter heart monitor alarms for ICU

Narrator:       This is Science Today. In an effort to help ease alarm fatigue among hospital nurses, a team of nurse scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, collected a month's worth of data from every single heart monitor alarm in their adult ICU units. Cardiac monitoring expert Barbara Drew says that from just one heart rhythm monitor device, they had about two and a half million alarms that month.

Drew:             It averaged to more than 1,000 alarms per patient, per day. So, if you're a nurse taking care of two patients and you're expected to respond to each and every one of those, you can imagine that you would not get anything else done for the patient because you would be all the time looking to evaluating the computer device that monitors the patient.

Narrator:       To deal with this, Drew is working with device manufacturers to create smarter heart monitor alarms that would include other clinically significant factors like blood pressure and respiration.

Drew:             So that when it sounded, it really would be that the patient was in trouble and we needed to drop everything and get to the patient's bedside.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.