State of Science in Alarm System Safety: Implications for Researchers, Vendors, and Clinical Leaders

Azizeh K. Sowan, Nancy Staggers, Charles C. Reed, Tommye Austin, Qian Chen, Shouhuai Xu, Emme Lopez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alarm fatigue is a complex phenomenon that needs to be assessed within the context of the clinical setting. Considering that complexity, the available information on how to address alarm fatigue and improve alarm system safety is relatively scarce. This article summarizes the state of science in alarm system safety based on the eight dimensions of a sociotechnical model for studying health information technology in complex adaptive healthcare systems. The summary and recommendations were guided by available systematic reviews on the topic, interventional studies published between January 2019 and February 2022, and recommendations and evidence-based practice interventions published by professional organizations. The current article suggests implications to help researchers respond to the gap in science related to alarm safety, help vendors design safe monitoring systems, and help clinical leaders apply evidence-based strategies to improve alarm safety in their settings. Physiologic monitors in intensive care units-the devices most commonly used in complex care environments and associated with the highest number of alarms and deaths-are the focus of the current work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-28
Number of pages10
JournalBiomedical Instrumentation and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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