Waist packs track ER patients

From Boston.com, via Symtym:

Emergency room doctors and nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital are getting some high-tech help watching vital signs and rapidly locating patients in the waiting room.

Under a trial funded by a $3.1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, the hospital will today begin distributing 10 waist packs to patients that contain sensors, transmitters, and tracking gear. The packs will allow medical staff to constantly monitor patients’ heart rates and blood-oxygen levels while they await treatment.

If a patient needs immediate attention — or collapses in the vicinity of the emergency room — an ultrasound tracking beacon will instantly give caregivers the patient’s exact location. If successful, the units could be commercialized to be used to help handle large numbers of patients in major disasters.

”We wanted some way to monitor patients and track where they were,” said Dr. Thomas Stair, a Brigham and Women’s emergency physician coordinating the project.

Patients’ vital signs will be picked up by a three-lead electrocardiogram and a finger sensor and fed into a personal digital assistant (PDA), then transmitted to a server that will display the information for nurses to monitor.

An ultrasound transmitter will send location information to receivers in the walls of the emergency room, halls, and restrooms. Ultrasound receivers transmit the signals to a computer that stores information about a patient’s movements, according to a program written by MIT scientists.

”This system will tell us heart rhythm, oxygen saturation, and where they are so we can respond better to codes,” Stair said.

Fire Marshal Cites WakeMed For Overcrowding

From NBC17.com (Raleigh, NC)

The Raleigh fire marshal issued WakeMed on New Bern Avenue a citation last week because hospital beds were crowding the hallways in the emergency room.

Over the last two weeks, the hospital has been operating at 120 percent capacity.

“At one point last week, we got to the point where we were going to have to early discharge the moms of newborns and let them stay in a hotel,” said Debbie Laughery, a WakeMed spokeswoman.

At another point, the hospital’s emergency room became so overcrowded that patients were placed on beds and put in the hallway. Someone called the fire marshal, who came down and hit the hospital with a citation.

“We were doing everything in our power to provide the absolute best care possible under really, really busy, busy times,” Laughery said.

Doctors are fallible, just like the rest of us

From the Concord (NH) Monitor:

My mother-in-law died 11 years ago. But the recent death of John Arsenault brought it back to me again. The hospital staff sent Arsenault by cab from the emergency room to a local homeless shelter. Six hours later, the shelter staff, concerned by his inability to sit or stand, called an ambulance to take him back to the hospital, where he died.

I can imagine the shock and anger of his family on learning of his death. I still remember the look on my husband’s face when at last he arrived home from the hospital that long ago Sunday. He was pale with grief and misery. But beneath his sadness lay a quiet fury aimed at the emergency room doctor.

Successful CPR Save in Canton, IL

From the Canton Daily Ledger:

During the 12 minutes it took for emergency services to arrive, the dispatcher talked Curtis through CPR and helped him try to save his mother’s life. Curtis doesn’t remember getting tired throughout the ordeal.

Rescue personnel took over for Curtis. They immediately loaded her into an ambulance and took off for Graham Hospital in Canton. One of the members of Buckheart Rescue Squad stayed with the children until someone could come get them.

Robot Nurse’s Aide

Had to post it, simply because the picture’s so cool…
From Medgadget:

Japanese-led research team said it had made a seeing, hearing and smelling robot that can carry human beings and is aimed at helping care for the country’s growing number of elderly.

Croup and Humidity

From Forbes:

A time-honored treatment to ease the seal-like bark of croup is to bring your child into a steamy bathroom or run a cool-mist vaporizer in her room until symptoms subside.

However, a new study suggests that these measures probably won’t have much effect on croup symptoms.

“The use of humidity failed to show any improvement in croup symptoms,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Dennis Scolnik, an associate professor at the Hospital for Sick Children and the University of Toronto in Canada.

Results of the study appear in the March 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Croup, which is the swelling of the tissues around the voice box, is actually a response to a viral or bacterial infection rather than a distinct illness. Croup is characterized by a cough that often sounds like the bark of a seal. Sometimes, the inflammation can get so bad that it obstructs the airway.

Croup caused by viruses is one of the most common causes of upper airway blockage in youngsters, affecting as many as 5 percent of children under 6 years old, according to the study.

The idea behind the use of humidity is that the moisture would soothe the irritated airway and thin mucous secretions, making breathing easier. However, Scolnik said there’s no good scientific evidence available to support the use of humidity.

Medicaid and ER’s in Missouri

From the Kansas City Star:

Medicaid cuts enacted last year have led some low-income Missourians to reduce their spending on food and utilities to pay for their health care, according to a survey released Tuesday.

The report suggests the state should monitor the effects of the Medicaid cuts on people and on government, including whether the cuts lead to greater use of emergency rooms. When asked how they planned to get health care, 46 percent of the survey respondents affected by the Medicaid cuts said they planned to go to a hospital emergency room.