Thursday, July 29, 2010

What A Great Idea

Researchers in Australia have developed a head up display for anesthesiologists to watch a patient's vital signs.  The display is linked to the regular patient monitors. A simulated picture of the anesthesiologist's view is shown above. This idea is a long time coming.  As any anesthesiologist can tell you, there are many times when it is critical to watch a patient's vitals signs but can't. 

The most obvious example is induction and intubation of a patient, particularly a difficult airway.  I can't tell you how many times during a difficult intubation that the only way to monitor the patient is by listening to the tone and the rate of the pulse ox while I concentrate on trying to secure the airway.  The only way to know if the patient is desaturating is when the tone gets down to the baritone level, or the nurse yells "Sat is 75%!". Another example is starting a pediatric IV in the OR.  After the child has been masked down, the anesthesiologist has to concentrate on starting a tiny IV, again compromising the ability to watch the patient's vitals.  A HUD would easily alleviate that issue.  Hopefully in the near future this technology will be another tool in our arsenal for ensuring patient safety.

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