Dartmouth Anesthesiologists' Surveillance System Decreases Post-Op ICU Visits

Written by  Staff | Tuesday, 26 January 2010 11:03
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Anesthesiologists at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., have developed a simple, but highly effective patient surveillance system that has decreased the number of rescue calls and ICU transfers in postsurgical patients, according to a news release from the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

The study is published in the February issue of Anesthesiology and is the first published report of such a surveillance monitoring system, which seeks to detect patient adverse events occurring in the general postoperative care setting when medical staff is immediately available to intervene, but is unaware of the deteriorating condition, according to the release.

The study monitored orthopedic patients by measure-through and low perfusion pulse oximetry finger probes that were connected to a computer, which notified nurses of physiological abnormalities that may signal more serious events. Researchers found that after two years, emergency rescue calls dropped from 3.4 to 1.2 per 1,000 patient discharges and ICU transfers dropped from 5.6 to 2.9 per 1,000 patient days, according to the release.

Researchers noted that DHMC saved 135 ICU days per year in one 36-bed unit with the monitoring system, with the average length of stay jus over five days for patients transferred to the ICU, according to the release.

The study was limited to mostly elderly patients who underwent orthopedic surgery, but the researchers see the potential for the monitoring system across a broader scope of patients.

Read the ASA's release on patient surveillance after surgery.

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