A number of our posts have focused on strategies to increase patient safety. They have ranged from surgical teams following checklists to establishing standards for when such procedures would be appropriate. However, a new system highlighted by fiercehealthcare.com could be an innovative strategy that could save patients’ lives
Patient early warning detection systems could help medical staff respond quicker to events before they become life-threatening. As described in the fiercehealthcare.com piece, patients would wear a monitor on their wrists that continuously provides updates on his or her vital signs (including blood pressure, pulse rate and pulse oximetry). The vitals are ranked on a scale of 0 to 5 and measurements are sent to an electronic health record. Patients who rank from 0 to 2.9 are in a clear (or “green” zone). If they rise above 3.0, the patient is in a dangerous zone and appropriate medical attention is administered.
A hospital in Michigan had implemented the system and studied the results from their test run. The bands reportedly reduced patient mortality rates by 35 percent. Moreover, the number of code blue emergencies were reduced by 50 percent.
It remains to be seen whether this technology ( similar to a FitBit or electronic monitoring bracelet) will be implemented as a standard measure for patient care, but it is an example of the duty that doctors and hospital personnel have towards patients. When those standards are not followed, and a patient is injured because a nurse or doctor failed to monitor a patient, someone should be held liable.