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Reliability of Clinical Alarm Detection in Intensive Care Units

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Harris Tsimenidis, Emeritus Professor Alan MurrayORCiD


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In hospital environments advanced medical devices are vital for both monitoring and therapy. Many have alarms, especially in intensive care areas. To ensure that important and unwanted clinical events are not missed, there is a tendency for devices to react to noise and artefact in the physiological waveforms, with many resulting false alarms.PhysioNet along with Computing in Cardiology have made available clinical alarm data, to allow improved algorithms for alarm detection to be developed. We present our results.Our analysis steps included: high pass filtering to remove baseline instability, scaling to normalise waveform amplitudes, detection of noisy and flat waveforms, differentiation to accentuate sharp waveform edges, beat detection, timing between beats preceding alarm onset, and detection of alarm conditions. When the waveforms were assessed as noisy they were labelled as false alarms. When noise-free and alarm conditions were met they were labelled as true alarms.The original PhysioNet analysis algorithm analysed arterial blood pressure (ABP) and photoplethysmograph (PPG) waveform data, resulting in true alarm detection sensitivity of 89% and 880%, and specificity of 38% and 380%, for the training and test data sets respectively, indicating a similar range of data in both sets.We investigated the use of ECG data alone with the training data, and this resulted in overall gross sensitivity and specificity for the first ECG channel of 89% and 680%, and for the second 87% and 68% respectively, indicating similarity in the two ECG channels. When BP and PPG were analysed following detection of noise in the ECG the results were 92% and 56%, and 90% and 54% respectively.We have shown that analysis of the ECG alone can obtain average sensitivity of 88%, with little difference in results between two simultaneous ECG channels. When the arterial blood pressure and peripheral pulse were also analysed this additional physiological data improved sensitivity by 3% points, but decreased specificity by 13% points in the training set, and 4% and 9% respectively in the test set.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tsimenidis C, Murray A

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Computing in Cardiology conference (CinC)

Year of Conference: 2015

Pages: 1185-1188

Print publication date: 01/01/2015

Online publication date: 18/02/2016

Acceptance date: 01/01/1900

Date deposited: 24/05/2017

ISSN: 2325-887X

Publisher: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers


DOI: 10.1109/CIC.2015.7411128

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781509006847