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Automated vital signs monitor can prevent bleeding to death

By Stephen Feller
New system analyzes vital signs for faster detection of life-threatening bleeding in emergency situations. Photo by blurAZ/Shutterstock
New system analyzes vital signs for faster detection of life-threatening bleeding in emergency situations. Photo by blurAZ/Shutterstock

BOSTON, May 14 (UPI) -- Emergency responders send as much patient information as possible during transportation to medical facilities, but there is a limit to how much they can see or know. This sometimes leads to delays in treatment once patients arrive at a hospital, some of whom bleed to death due to unseen issues.

Researchers associated with Massachusetts General Hospital and the U.S. Army have been testing a system that monitors heart rate, blood pressure and breathing patterns to detect life-threatening bleeding.

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"Providing faster care to patients who are bleeding to death saves lives," said Dr. Andrew Reisner of the MGH Department of Emergency Medicine in a press release. "Our study demonstrated that automated analysis of patients' vital signs during prehospital transport was significantly better at discriminating between patients who did and did not have life-threatening hemorrhage. Receiving more reliable information before the patient arrives can help hospitals be ready for immediate surgery and replenishment of lost blood without wasting tie and resources on false alarms."

Transport teams send information about a patient's injuries and condition, but decisions about surgery or blood transfusion are not made until they arrive at the hospital and can be assessed by doctors. Sometimes, this leads to patients bleeding to death because problems could not be diagnosed quickly enough.

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The system being tested, called Automated Processing of the Physiological Registry for Assessment of Injury Severity, or APPRAISE, uses software to gather patient's vital signs and determine if there is an issue. Tests of the system showed it was correct 75 to 80 percent of the time, as compared to 50 percent accuracy using traditional methods of diagnosis. Notifications from the system alert hospitals to an incoming patient with life-threatening bleeding before he or she even arrives.

The U.S. Army is looking into the system because it may be able to save lives in battle zones, where assessing injuries and prioritizing care are even more essential.

"Uncontrolled bleeding is the single most important cause of preventable combat death among our troops," said James Reifman, PhD, of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. "Care prioritization or triage is a very important problem in military medicine, when there may be more injured casualties than caregivers. In those situations the ability to wisely choose who needs priority care is truly a matter of life and death."

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The study was published in the journal Shock.

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