Developing the hospital bed of the future

Edward Willett @ 26-02-2008

Mary_Mallon_(Typhoid_Mary)_in_hospital A European Union-funded project led by Philips Electronics aims to develop a hospital bed that can passively assess a patient’s heart rate, sleep quality, temperature and other criteria without the need to wire up the patient directly. (Via MedGadget.)

According to a BBC story:

The bed would include, not only an electronic weight scale and blood pressure monitor, but also sensors which measure heart rate, breathing rate and body movement while sleeping.

In addition, the patient could wear a vest with woven-in electrodes to provide a full electro-cardiogram reading.

All this information would be analysed on a PDA and the results sent via a telephone line or broadband connection to doctors.

The device, it is claimed, could even provide clues to interrupted sleep by measuring sleep phase patterns.

No word on whether it would have a big monitor over the bed with flashing lights and a cool beeping noises, a la Dr. McCoy’s sick-bay beds on Star Trek.

An interesting caveat from Dr. Nick Robinson of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Telehealth forum:

“We are used to making decisions based on taking a blood pressure reading on an occasional basis – and all the evidence we have for intervening is based on this. The real challenge for this technology is not taking the measurements, but working out what to do with it, so that we are not constantly getting false alarms.”

Can too much information about a patient’s condition actually be a bad thing?

(Image: Wikimedia Commons.)

[tags]medicine,hospitals,technology,Star Trek[/tags]

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