Towards Reducing Alarm Fatigue: Peripheral Light Pattern Design for Critical Care Alarms

Wednesday 3 October 2018
Organisers or author: 
Vanessa Cobus, Hannah Meyer, Swamy Ananthanarayan, Susanne Boll, Wilko Heuten

Full paper.

Everyone who has visited a patient in an intensive care unit will still remember the constant noise emitted from a number of highly sophisticated technical systems. For critical care nurses this creates a working environment in which about 350 alarms per patient are issued and each caretaker is responsible for several patients at the same time. Alarm fatigue is a known effect in this demanding working environment which means a desensitization as well as a delayed response time for alarms. This can have severe consequences not only for the patients, but finally also for the caretakers. To counteract the acoustic load on intensive care units, we explored light as a stimulus modality to display alarms in the user’s peripheral vision using a head-mounted display. In a participatory design study, we developed several light patterns to represent three urgency categories. Under task conditions that mimic the load of care tasks, we evaluated the perceptibility and suitability of light alarm patterns. Our results show that peripheral light alarms area promising approach to alert the user and our patterns can convey different levels of urgency.