System aims to cut false alarms

A system developed at the University of Edinburgh could reduce the number of false alarms in neonatal units.


The high number of false alarms in neonatal units which waste valuable medical time could be significantly reduced thanks to a system developed at the University of Edinburgh.


Alarms in neonatal units are linked to monitoring probes but they can sound off when a baby moves or is being handled, for instance when changing a nappy, which creates interference or may dislodge wires.


‘We have devised a system that looks at the monitoring data as a whole, as opposed to individually. This is more likely to indicate what causes the alarm to go off and if there is indeed a problem,’  said Professor Neil McIntosh, Professor of Child Life and Health at the University.


In use, the system works out an ‘X-factor’ which determines whether the changes are clinically significant or whether they are, for instance, simply a result of a probe being dislodged.


The system was devised by Professor Chris Williams and his postgraduate student John Quinn in the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics in conjunction with Professor McIntosh.