User-Friendly Alarms Needed

Howard Schranz, MD

To the Editor:

While we all agree in principle that audible alarms should be used, the problems incurred by excessive false-positives cause many practitioners to shut them off. Especially for short cases, such as endoscopy, the anesthesiologist must spend excessive time and effort addressing alarms activated by an oximeter that falls off a finger, a patient who breathes through his mouth instead of his nose, a blood pressure cuff blocking a pulse, and the like. Not a day goes by without my repeated disclaimer to procedurists, nurses, and even to awake patients, "Sorry, the patient is fine, it is just my alarms (falsely) acting up."

My attempts to discuss the practitioners’ concerns to the equipment industry, as in the literature, have always yielded excuses and justifications for the status quo. It is up to our profession’s leaders, as well as practitioners, to induce the industry to develop user-friendly monitors and alarms that will be a pleasure to use.

Howard Schranz, MD
Brooklyn, NY