Intended for healthcare professionals



BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 13 July 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:156

Many devices for monitoring patients are fitted with alarms to draw the attention of staff to dangerously low or high readings. The trouble is that the noise they make is loud, shrill, and irritating. What's worse, they often go off when nothing serious has happened. Two psychologists argue that it's time designers of these devices took account of well known principles of auditory cognition. For example, they should use frequencies that make it easy to locate where the alarm is, enrich the sound harmonically, and make the sound intermittent so that it doesn't interfere with speech. It would also help if they could reduce the number of alarms and the rate of false alarms (British Journal of Anaesthesia 2006;97: 12-7).

According to Wikipedia, Tai Chi, the Chinese routine of slow and graceful exercises, translates as “supreme ultimate fist.” Even so, it seems to be a good form of physical activity for elderly women. A pilot study found that aerobic fitness improved more in the group allocated a short form of Tai Chi than in the group randomised to brisk walking (Age and Ageing 2006;35: 388-93).

Many Western countries have seen a gradual decline in levels of civic participation. Younger people especially are less likely to join clubs or engage in voluntary activity. One reason may be that pursuing …

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