Auditory alarms, medical standards, and urgency
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A newly-released international standard for medical equipment alarms, IEC 60601-1-8, incorporates a long-standing suggestion that alarms should indicate their source through distinctive melodies. In this paper we examine this suggestion. We describe the proposed alarms, outline the history of the idea, and review recent research on the effectiveness of the alarms, some of it performed in our laboratory. Finally we discuss the concept of ``urgency mapping'' for alarms, noting where it may and may not be effective.