Com pu ter monitors heart surgery patient
Postoperative care of open heart surgery
patients is being handled in part by a computer at the University of Alabama in Birmingham Medical Center. The compu- ter assists in the care of patients in four automated beds in the cardiovascular in- tensive care unit, keeping constant 24-hour- a-day vigil on patients. It even feeds blood or plasma into the patient's system if, after an automated check of the patient's vital measurements, added fluids are warranted. The computer measures the blood pressure, heart rate, temperature and other vital body signs. If the measurements drop below the optimal levels, the system automatically pumps fresh blood into the patient.
Louis C Sheppard, designer of the system and associate professor, says a nurse can take the same readings on a patient about once every 15 to 30 minutes, but the com- puter takes readings on all four beds in 15 seconds, and does it continuously. This leaves the nurse free to give more direct, personal care to the patient, or to help with other patients during times of crisis.
Sheppard said the patient recovery pe- riod has been cut to almost a third. With the automated beds, 75% of the heart surgery patients can be moved to regular care areas within 24 hours, compared to pre-automation periods of up to three days. The beds help with the present case load of more than 80 heart surgery patients a month.
The hospital plans to add four more beds. Seven non-automated beds and twice as many nurses would be needed to do the job of the present four automated beds. Future plans call for up to 17 automated beds in a planned Alabama Heart Hospital to be built on the University campus.
The computer, of course, is only as good as the informofion fed into it. John W Kirklin, MD, professor and chairman of the department, and Nicholas T Kouchoukos, associate professor, programmed their best decisions, made when they were fresh and alert. No physician can maintain that level of awareness, but the computer can use those decisions all the time, Sheppard re-
176 AORN Journal, July 1973, VoZ 18, No 1
Computer-controlled equipment surrounds the patient in the cardiovascular intensive care unit at the University of Alabama in Birmingham's University Hospital. The computer system takes vital measure- ments and administers fluids automatically for open heart surgery patients.
Cuncer risk studied Cholesterol-lowering diets do not appear to increase the risk of cancer, but more studies are needed to pin down this hypothesis, according to the Inter-Society Commission for Heart Disease Resources.
The question was raised two years ago when a Los Angeles study suggested that diets high in polyunsaturated fats might increase the risk of cancer.
Since then, the Commission has reviewed four other diet studies. It reported that the combined data from the five studies "are consistent with the hypothesis that the cholesterol-lowering diets do not influence cancer risk."
The Commission said the diets lowered deaths from all causes which suggests the benefits of the diets "are not likely to be outweighed by any as yet unidenti- fied hazards."
AORN Journal, July 1973, VoE 18, No 1 177