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Display of information in the operating room

Kiefer, Nicholasa; Hoeft, Andreasb

Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology: December 2010 - Volume 23 - Issue 6 - p 772–777
doi: 10.1097/ACO.0b013e32834045fd
Technology, education, training and information systems: Edited by Wolfgang Buhre

Purpose of review The ongoing development of new sensors and parameters for intraoperative monitoring has outpaced the development of display design, leading to a gap between the load of information and the quality of its delivery. This is not a circumstantial problem, as a large portion of critical incidents is attributable to inadequate situation awareness and the failure to recognize readily monitored data. This review also addresses improvements of current threshold alarms.

Recent findings Research has focused on advanced integrated displays, drawing on the findings of human factor science and on the exploitation of alternative sensory pathways. Integrated displays, as well as auditory, vibrotactile and head-mounted displays have been shown to promote situation awareness and reduce cognitive workload. Intelligent alarm design can successfully reduce the number of false alarms.

Summary Improvement of the display of information in the operating room is warranted, and recent developments are promising. However, their introduction into mass market is not yet on the horizon, although the shortcomings of the traditional single-sensor-single-indicator principle are known for a long time. If manufacturers are reluctant to implement new techniques into their devices, they should at least facilitate access to monitoring raw data in order to allow independent development of displays.

aDepartment of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany

bUniversity of Applied Science (Hochschule Darmstadt), Haardtring, Darmstadt, Germany

Correspondence to Dr med. Nicholas Kiefer, Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, University of Bonn, Bonn, Sigmund Freud Street #25, 53105 Bonn, Germany Tel: +49 228 287 14126; e-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.