An alarming problem
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info Silvana Riphagen

info Renée Hovenier

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An alarming problem

The challenge

The number of false alarms at the Emergency Department is a major problem. Although alarms are important in life-threatening situations, several studies show that up to 90% of the alarms is false and therefore undesirable. Due to the abundance of false alarms, caregivers respond less adequately to true alarms and sounds are sometimes even turned off completely. This endangers patient safety. Our goal was to develop a method to reduce the number of false arrhythmia alarms at the Emergency Department.

The solution

To solve the problem, an algorithm has been developed in which arrhythmia detection in the electrocardiogram (ECG) is checked with signal properties of the photoplethysmogram (PPG). False alarms can occur due to the presence of artifacts in the signal. In the current algorithm, an alarm is triggered when an abnormality is detected in the ECG signal. This algorithm has been extended with an analysis of the signal properties of the PPG signal. It is unlikely that ECG-related artifacts are also seen on the PPG, as it is measured by an independent sensor. This sensor is located at a different location on the body than the sensors for the ECG. The first results show that the algorithm leads to an increased specificity for various arrhythmias and that it has the potential to reduce the number of false alarms. Because of this reduction, caregivers will be less burdened with unnecessary alarms. This does not only apply to the Emergency Department, but all departments of the hospital using simultaneous ECG and PPG measurements can have advantages of using this algorithm. In the figures below, you can find our article written for the Student Research Conference 2017.

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