Document Type


Date of Award

Fall 1-31-2009

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering - (M.S.)


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Arijit K. Sengupta

Second Advisor

Richard A. Foulds

Third Advisor

Max Roman

Fourth Advisor

Hans Raj Chaudhry

Fifth Advisor

Sergei Adamovich


Auditory alarms in medical equipments perform considerably below their optimal level. Concern has been expressed about the quality of medical alarms by a large number of researchers in recent years. A detailed literature survey on the medical alarm related problems has been carried out. Hospital visits were made to obtain real life information and data of alarm sounds in various type of monitors used in OR and ICU. A laboratory experiment has been conducted on selected melodic alarm sounds. These melodic alarm sounds are being implemented in medical equipments and the idea of design is proposed in ISO / IEC 60601-1-8. The tests were computer-administered and participated by 13 volunteers. Initially, volunteers were trained with the individual alarm sounds and the physiological cause of the alarm. Subsequently, they were tested for their learnability of the alarm sounds in the presence and absence of background noise and the results were compared. The presence of background noise did not have much effect on the correct identification rate. However, the confusion between the alarms sounds was significantly higher when background noise was present. Additionally the volunteers rated each alarm sound in terms of annoyance and urgency factor. Statistically significant correlation was found between the urgency rating and the annoyance rating of the alarm sounds.



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