Machine learning applied to multi-sensor information to reduce false alarm rate in the ICU

Gal Hever, Liel Cohen, Michael F. O’Connor, Idit Matot, Boaz Lerner, Yuval Bitan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Studies reveal that the false alarm rate (FAR) demonstrated by intensive care unit (ICU) vital signs monitors ranges from 0.72 to 0.99. We applied machine learning (ML) to ICU multi-sensor information to imitate a medical specialist in diagnosing patient condition. We hypothesized that applying this data-driven approach to medical monitors will help reduce the FAR even when data from sensors are missing. An expert-based rules algorithm identified and tagged in our dataset seven clinical alarm scenarios. We compared a random forest (RF) ML model trained using the tagged data, where parameters (e.g., heart rate or blood pressure) were (deliberately) removed, in detecting ICU signals with the full expert-based rules (FER), our ground truth, and partial expert-based rules (PER), missing these parameters. When all alarm scenarios were examined, RF and FER were almost identical. However, in the absence of one to three parameters, RF maintained its values of the Youden index (0.94–0.97) and positive predictive value (PPV) (0.98–0.99), whereas PER lost its value (0.54–0.8 and 0.76–0.88, respectively). While the FAR for PER with missing parameters was 0.17–0.39, it was only 0.01–0.02 for RF. When scenarios were examined separately, RF showed clear superiority in almost all combinations of scenarios and numbers of missing parameters. When sensor data are missing, specialist performance worsens with the number of missing parameters, whereas the RF model attains high accuracy and low FAR due to its ability to fuse information from available sensors, compensating for missing parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-352
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Clinical Monitoring and Computing
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • False alarms
  • Intensive care unit
  • Machine learning
  • Missing data
  • Random forest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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