How changing the tune of medical devices can improve public health, help health-care workers – CTV

Feb. 16, 2023

A new Canadian-led study into the effectiveness of medical alarms has revealed musical notes are “less bothersome” than industry-standard flat tones, which researchers believe could better alert health-care workers without compromising patient safety.

Researchers changed the sounds in medical devices to see if they were more effective in alerting users. Then, in a separate experiment, respondents rated how annoying they found each of the tones that were tested, preferring percussive tones to flat tones.

Findings of the study, conducted in Hamilton, Ont., and published in the British Journal of Anesthesia, offer a glimmer of hope for some health-care workers, who told of the alarm fatigue they experience.

“They drive me nuts,” says Heather McKenzie, a registered practical nurse, who says she hears them all day working in a busy kidney dialysis unit in Welland, Ont. “I know I have to respond but if I am in the middle of something important, it has to wait, causing a feeling of pressure, like a knot in my stomach or even nausea.”

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