Anyone who has stayed overnight in the hospital knows at least one solid fact — it’s extremely difficult to sleep there. Between the alarms and the frequent visits by hospital staff for vital signs checks, it’s hard to get a good night’s rest. A new device is being introduced that might solve part of this problem.
While it doesn’t do anything about interruptions for blood pressure checks, the device, which was invented by a team of engineering students at Vanderbilt University, can help significantly with the sounds of monitor alarms going off.
The alarms are designed to notify doctors and nurses about a problem, but are frequently false in nature. And, every time one of them goes off, it can wake the patient. The device invented at Vanderbilt is designed to be worn in the ears of the patient, and uses real-time audio processing to filters out the tones. When wearing the device, the patient simply won’t hear the alarms.
“We wanted to create a way that clinicians would still be alerted to necessary patient alarms, while providing a better environment for the patient’s healing process,” said Joe Schlesinger, a critical care physician and assistant professor of anesthesiology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center who oversaw the project.
The prototype created by the team showed great promise in their testing. The immediate goal is a comfortable, inexpensive and reusable wireless device that digitally subtracts alarm sound waves while preserving and improving speech comprehension. Another team is currently working to refine the initial “proof of concept” and build on the work that’s already been done.