I read that the loud alarms in the ICU have a deleterious effect on patients' outcomes. Are there any significant benefits to these loud alarms? Otherwise, shouldn't they use some more discrete alarms(e.g. in their pocket/phone) instead?
Alarms in the ICU can lead to a disruption of care, impacting both the patient and the clinical staff through noise disturbances, desensitization to warnings and slowing of response times , leading to decreased quality of care [2,3]. ICU alarms produce sound intensities above 80 dB that can lead to sleep deprivation [1,4,5], inferior sleep structure [6,7], stress for both patients and staff [10,11,12,13] and depressed immune systems . There are also indications that the incidence of re-hospitalization is lower if disruptive noise levels are decreased during a patient's stay . Furthermore, such disruptions have been shown to have an important effect on recovery and length of stay [2,10]. In particular, cortisol levels have been shown to be elevated (reflecting increased stress) [12,13], and sleep disruption has been shown to lead to longer stays in the ICU . ICU false alarm (FA) rates as high as 86% have been reported, with between 6% and 40% of ICU alarms having been shown to be true but clinically insignificant (requiring no immediate action) . In fact, only 2% to 9% of alarms have been found to be important for patient management .