I seem to recall some work done (it could have been by the US Air Force) on standardizing alarms. They were talking about audible alarms on patient monitors, if I remember correctly. Yes, this is an interesting area, but perhaps we should take a cue from other areas of technical endeavour (the auto industry, for instance … consider the speaking Sat-Nav!).

Equipment controls are other consideration, are they not? Especially now that many bits of kit are software-driven, involving the use of menus to drill-down to what you are looking for. Some that I have come across have been well-designed, and intuitive, whilst others have been, well … horrendous! Perhaps, with all it's supposed clout, the UK's National Health Service could devise, and then insist upon, it's own alarm-set(s) for critical patient monitoring? Now, there's a thought!

It's not easy to impose standardization here, though, is it? Just look at what’s happening to one universally applied (almost) interface standard! These things evolve, and there have been many cases where the best, most elegant, approach has not been the one taken up. Usually it has been a case of the “industry standard” becoming the one adopted by the de facto market leader. Remember when British motor-bike manufacturers had to start putting the gear-change on the wrong side? smile

Last edited by Geoff Hannis; 10/04/07 9:07 AM. Reason: endeavour, not endevour!

If you don't inspect ... don't expect.