Handheld cardiac monitors reduce cardiac risk at Royal Infirmary of
2 October 2009
NHS Lothian has rolled out a state-of-the-art patient monitoring
system to improve care for cardiac surgery patients. Handheld devices
that monitor blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen levels, have been put
in place in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) to prevent
complications, such as cardiac arrest and deep vein thrombosis.
Lothian is one of the first in the UK to introduce the small wireless
Micropaq devices which have helped transform patient care and save
lives. The portable machines help to warn medics of any complications
before they arise by recording and analysing the crucial data from
It means that staff can monitor patients at the bedside and
throughout the ward, rather than moving each person to a wall-mounted
Patients can also begin their recovery much faster as the machines
help physiotherapists to monitor exactly how much exercise is required.
Experts can even predict the length of a stay removing the risk of
patients being sent home too soon.
Dr David Scott, Consultant Cardiothoracic Anaesthetist, NHS Lothian
said: “We have seen a significant reduction in patients suffering a
cardiac arrest on the ward or being discharged with potentially
life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias following cardiac surgery. Cardiac
thresholds can now not only be monitored at the bedside, but remotely
throughout the ward. The quality of the monitor screens is exceptional
and clearly shows irregularities in cardiac electrophysiology.”
A total of six devices were drafted in to ward 102 as a pilot project
in 2007. However they have been so successful that NHS Lothian increased
the number to 20 earlier this year.
The machines, manufactured by Welch Allyn, are connected remotely to
a central hub, called the Acuity Central Station. They are about the
size of a cordless phone and are carried in a small pouch.
The monitors provide remote data on ECG waveforms, oxygen saturation,
heart rate and rhythm and are especially useful when patients are
transferred from high-dependency or critical care units.
Lynn Stewart, Ward Manager, said: “Monitoring at this level allows us
to identify dipping potassium levels following cardiac surgery,
minimising the risk of a ventricular arrhythmia. It also provides an
early indication that intervention is required and should a patient
emergency occur, the nurse in charge will be alerted to vital signs
alarms without what might otherwise be a life-threatening delay. We have
also found it helps physiotherapists to initiate exercise programmes
designed to help patients post-operatively at the earliest opportunity.”
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