Saturday, April 3, 2010

Unplug the damn thing

The MGH lost a patient due to warning fatigue. In response, they made it impossible to turn off alarms and they added more speakers.

What's wrong with this picture?

Though I'm sure the nurses can still squelch alarms temporarily, the MGH response only makes the fundamental problem worse. Their equipment has exceeded the bandwidth available from their personnel, and they've added more information to the channel. Good luck with that. Good luck keeping annoying devices plugged in.

A better systems solution would require more precise triage (or n-age) of alarm criticality, rather than having every medical device in the hospital chirp away maddeningly in the hope that a nurse or doctor will hear the right one at the right time.

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