Nursing in the New Age

FRESNO, Calif.

But medical teams in short staff may have a new tool to help them keep watch over patients. It may also help soldiers wounded in the battle field stay alive.

Former Navy officer Earnest Odum isn't afraid of anything. But when Odum went in for knee replacement surgery, he got the scare of his life.

"That's the way I was, shaking all over. I knew something was wrong," Odum told Ivanhoe.

While recovering in the hospital, Odum suffered an allergic reaction to a post-surgery blood transfusion.

"Transfusion reactions can be quite severe, and occasionally, can result in death," Michael Higgins, M.D., professor, departments of anesthesiology, surgery and biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in Nashville, Tenn., said.

Thanks to this device, nurses reacted quickly, getting earnest the drugs he needed.

"It just stopped in a second or two," Odum recalled.

The vital signs of a stable hospital patient are typically taken once every four to eight hours. This cuff takes a patient's blood oxygen levels, heart rhythm and rate, respiration and blood pressure, every 60 seconds.

"The idea is to have a safety net, where any patient anywhere in the hospital is always being monitored," Dr. Higgins said. The data is sent wirelessly to a central computer. If something goes wrong with a patient, an alert sounds. Pamela Holland says wearing the cuff puts her mind at ease.

"The nurses stay so busy and it's good to know there's something they can monitor me with whether they're too busy to be right here," Holland explained.

The goal is to some day use the cuff in situations with large numbers of wounded patients -- like manmade or natural disasters or on soldiers injured on the battlefield -- something that hits earnest close to home.

"I'd go over there and fight with them if I wasn't so old," Odum said.

This new band is saving lives with a second set of eyes.

So far, the device has been used on more than 1300 patients. Another potential use for the device is to catch health issues at home such as sleep apnea.

Craig Boerner, National News Director
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Nashville, TN
(615) 322-4747

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