Patients and nurses benefit from in-bed patient monitoring system

6 April 2009

There are significant benefits for patients and nurses when continuous vigilance monitoring is used in medical settings, according to a new study published in The Journal of Nursing Administration.

The 12 month study was conducted at three US Veterans Health Administration (VHA) hospitals, utilizing the LifeBed Patient Vigilance System. The system comprises a mattress coverlet which is embedded with sensors that measure heart rate (HR), respiratory rate (RR) and provides a bed-exit alert for fall prevention.

The patient simply lies down and the sensors immediately monitor HR and RR. No electrodes, cuffs or other connections are required, which improves patient comfort. Patient data is continuously relayed to a bedside computer display unit. If the patient's HR or RR fluctuates outside normal limits or if a fall-risk patient leaves the bed the system alerts nursing staff both audibly and visually.

The study found that the timeliness of the early warning system improved early recognition of patient distress, resulting in nurses spending more time with patients. Previous studies have found that the more time a nurse spends with patients the better the outcome.

"The outcomes were definitive," said Dr Patrick Sullivan, President and CEO of Hoana Medical, Inc. "Using such monitoring provides an early alert to RNs about potential medical problems, so they can intervene in a more timely way and, as a result, improve patient safety." 

"The reality of the nationwide nursing shortage is that, at most hospitals, nurses do not have the time to constantly monitor all of their patients," said Dr Heather Herdman, Chief Strategic Officer of Hoana Medical, Inc. "Monitoring generally takes place about every four hours and it's not always done by an RN. By then, if a patient is in distress, it can be a life threatening situation." In fact, respiratory rate change is the number one predictor of a patient being at risk for medical complications that are cardio-respiratory in nature.

In addition to providing early recognition of patient distress, earlier independent research studies showed that fall rates drop between 40 and 90% through continuous vigilance monitoring.

"Clearly the results show that technology can benefit both the medical community and the patient," said Sullivan. "The patients get the help they need in a very timely manner and RNs know the technology will help them provide the quality care that's needed."

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