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Importance of linguistic details in alarm messages 
of ventricular assist devices

Abstract

Purpose: In the daily use of ventricular assist devices (VAD), and especially in emergency situations, an easy, self-explanatory handling of the peripheral components is essential to solving life-threatening situations, for non-experienced bystanders as well as professional staff members. It has been proven that displaying messages can significantly improve proper reactions. However, in the case we report, an accidental pump cable disconnection could not be solved without the assistance of the VAD coordinator.
Case Report: A long-term HeartWare® HVAD patient inadvertently disconnected himself from the pump, most probably due to a metabolically caused mental disorder, for which he had been readmitted to the hospital. Unluckily, the pump cable slipped beneath the bed sheet and the ward staff was not able to solve the problem. The staff who were involved claimed that the messages on the controller did not help them to resolve the difficulty. A comparison between the German and English texts revealed some ambivalence in the German wordings. 
Results: Laypersons were asked to respond to this situation in a simulated scenario, starting with the original alarm messages “VAD stopped”-”VAD gestoppt” and “Connect Driveline”-“Verb-Kabel anschl.” If they were unable to solve the problem within 3 minutes, another translation was offered orally: “Pumpe steht” and “Pumpenkabel anschließen”. None of the 5 test persons were able to respond correctly to the emergency situation with the original translation, but when provided with a modified translation, everybody solved the problem within 30 seconds.
Conclusions: Even small linguistic differences can lead to critical differences in the usability and, thus, the safety of VAD peripherals. Detailed discussions with professional translators and/or practical tests of failure scenarios may optimize usability.

Int J Artif Organs 2013; 36(6): 406 - 409

Article Type: ORIGINAL RESEARCH ARTICLE

DOI:10.5301/ijao.5000205

Authors

Heinrich Schima, Thomas Schlöglhofer, Zeno Hartner, Johann Horvat, Daniel Zimpfer

Article History

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Authors

  • Schima, Heinrich [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
    Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, Medical University of Vienna - Austria and Department of Cardiac Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna - Austria and Ludwig-Boltzmann-Cluster for Cardiovascular Research, Vienna - Austria
  • Schlöglhofer, Thomas [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
    Center for Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, Medical University of Vienna - Austria and Department of Cardiac Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna - Austria and Ludwig-Boltzmann-Cluster for Cardiovascular Research, Vienna - Austria
  • Hartner, Zeno [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
    Department of Cardiac Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna - Austria
  • Horvat, Johann [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
    Department of Cardiac Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna - Austria
  • Zimpfer, Daniel [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
    Department of Cardiac Surgery, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna - Austria and Ludwig-Boltzmann-Cluster for Cardiovascular Research, Vienna - Austria

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