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Could Our Healthcare System Function Without Power In The Digital Age?

* Bzzzzzaaaaapp *

Suddenly, the light went out. There was complete and utter darkness. Then, about 3 seconds later, the lights returned. My computer with its flat screen poised before me, remained dark. I hesitated a moment, then pushed the power button. Within a few more moments, the computer restarted. All seemed intact.

But what if it wasn’t?

Today with our myriad of computer systems, electronic medical records, e-mail messages, paging systems, digital xray machines, blood chemistry analyzers, automated blood pressure cuffs, etc., etc., etc., what would happen if we had no power or functional electronic medical record, just for a week?

Could our health system function?

We have entered the era when our medical students and residents have never entered a written order and “flagged it.” Our unit secretaries wouldn’t have a clue how to take off an order from a “flagged” chart. How would we order a stat portable chest xray without a computer? And what about our written notes. Would they include the date and time in the lefthand column, or would that be forgotten in our hurry to write our manual progress notes? Would our digital phone systems work? How about our pagers? Doctors can no longer find manual blood pressure cuffs on our wards since hospitals have moved to automated blood pressure cuffs that upload their readings into the electronic medical record automatically.  Have our nurses and medical assistants lost the art of taking a manual blood pressure? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

Automatic Translation Services: Miscommunications Still Likely

Health IT is valuable in many ways and I do believe it will revolutionize how we practice medicine. However, we’ve got a long way to go yet, especially in auto-translating English into other languages. This short exercise in English-Spanish translation (through a computer software program) reminds me of how far off “seamless” health technology really is…

(My mother is fully bilingual in Spanish and English and decided to test the auto-translator service with a sentence from a book. Here is the result:)

ENGLISH: He popped a deep-fried sardine into his mouth and washed it down with a few swallows of beer.

LITERAL TRANSLATION OF SPANISH RESULT: He punctured a sardine fried deep in his mouth, and he laundered it near the bottom along with some swallows (referring to the birds) made of beer.

Bloodbot, The Vein-Finding Robot


Here is a project from the folks at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London, and its Mechatronics in Medicine Laboratory, who are bent on developing an “active robot designed to take blood samples from the ante-cubital fossa…”

The Bloodbot identifies the location of a suitable vein by pressing a probe against the surface tissue of the ante-cubital fossa and measuring the force on the probe. The difference in the characteristics of the tissue from its surroundings, in response to the applied force, indicates the presence of a vein.

Once a suitable vein has been found, it inserts a needle under force control. When the needle penetrates the vein (identified by its force/position profile), the control system prevents further insertion, thus avoiding overshooting the vein.

We think they need to combine this robot with VeinViewer for a more accurate, and probably spookier, experience.

The Bloodbot Project…

Flashbacks: VeinViewer Shipped!; First Hospital To Use The VeinViewer ; Video of VeinViewer; VeinViewer Off to Europe; Vein Contrast Enhancer

(hat tip: DVICE)

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

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