The Intensive Care Unit of most major hospitals is a noisy environment. In order to monitor patients, healthcare practitioners set threshold alarms on each of many individual vital sign monitors. While nurses themselves rarely consider one vital sign in isolation, the current alarm algorithms elicit numerous false positive alarms by only examining each vital sign individually. The lack of clinical relevancy in a majority of these alarms produces an inefficient healthcare system, where nurses habitually ignore low level alarms due to their overabundance.

The Smart Alarms project consists of an alarm algorithm that considers multiple vital signs when monitoring a post coronary artery bypass graft (post-CABG) surgery patients and children in the ICU at risk of hypoxia. The nature of these patients enables the algorithm to focus on monitoring four vital signs: blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, and oxygen saturation rate. This solution constructs a new, three level alarm priority system that more efficiently communicates the clinical severity of the problem based on the needs and requests of current healthcare practitioners. As a result, this multivariate approach decreases clinical false alarms.

For more information on this and other cyber-physical systems projects, see the PRECISE Center.


Students and Postdocs

  • Hung Nguyen (PhD)
  • Radoslav Ivanov (postdoc)


Sponsored by grants from NSF and NIH


University of Pennsylvania Healthcare System, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia