Digital patch for prevention of in-hospital cardiorespiratory arrest
In many ways in-hospital cardiorespiratory arrest is a completely different ball game than the out of hospital cardiorespiratory arrest. For one thing, most cardiac arrests occurring in hospitals are not sudden or unpredictable in nature. Nevertheless, chances of surviving, in such an environment with numerous medical professionals, are surprisingly not much better than on the street. Fewer than 20% of patients having an in-hospital cardiac arrest will survive to be discharged home.
One of the main problems with in-hospital cardiac arrest is failure to recognize the deteriorating patient. Data shows that in approximately 80% of cases there is deterioration in vital signs during the few hours before cardiac arrest. If such deterioration is recognized, many unwanted events can be prevented. This is of course anything but an easy task. In many hospitals, vital signs are measured and recorded several times a day by the nurses. To help detect deterioration and predict cardiac arrest, early warning scoring systems are used to allocate points to vital signs on the basement of their deflection from normal range. However, such systems are hard to implement and have shown conflicting results. There are many issues like low frequency of observation, staff work overload and human errors.
In areas of intensive care, patients are closely monitored 24 hours a day, but patients on other wards, who are not immune to cardiac arrest, are not. Attaching all patients in the hospital to conventional monitors is unnecessary, expensive, restricting and just completely ridiculous. But what if we had monitors that are not like those big boxes with lots of wires we are used to? What if we had monitors that look like small band-aids? What if these monitors could do all the work on their own and warn medical staff of deteriorating patients?
A company from UK called Toumaz makes just that kind of devices, which hold a great potential of increasing survival rates of in-hospital cardiac arrest. They have developed a new generation of ultra-small body-worn monitors that deliver continual observation and patient management in both general ward and outpatient settings. Once admitted, a patient gets a small band-aid like wireless monitor attached to his chest. This small computer on a chip receives physiological signals such as the ECG and respiratory activity, converts them into heart rate and respiratory rate data, and transmits them to the hospital computer database. From their warnings of deterioration can be sent out everywhere, to nurse’s stations or doctor’s mobile phones. Measurements happen automatically as frequently as every two minutes, with patients moving around their rooms or the whole hospital. Once the system, which can incorporate other measurements like blood pressure or oxygen saturation, is perfected, it will free the caregivers to focus on other important tasks and have great impact on improving patient outcomes.
You can read more about the Sensium Digital Patch from Toumaz in the latest Personalised Medicine supplement of Electronics Letters.