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.
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