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Fifteen-minute consultation: How to interpret and manage ventilator alarms in the neonatal intensive care unit
  1. Nipa Mitra,
  2. Gusztav Belteki
  1. Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gusztav Belteki, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, UK; gbelteki{at}


Modern neonatal intensive care units use a large number of monitoring and therapeutic devices. Most of them have alarms with varying degree of standardisation. Mechanical ventilator alarms alert clinicians about technical problems with equipment, acute deterioration of the patient, changes in his or her clinical condition or in respiratory mechanics. However, frequent ventilator alarms interfere with developmental care and they may lead to alarm fatigue, missed alarms and clinical incidents. In this article, we discuss the most important ventilator alarms and their clinical significance. We also provide advice how to respond to ventilator alarms and how to set alarm limits.

  • neonatology
  • data collection
  • therapeutics
  • technology

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  • Contributors GB conceptualised the paper. NM and GB wrote the manuscript together and approved the final manuscript as submitted.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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