Could an app-device help save children with sepsis?
“Often misunderstood as “blood poisoning”, sepsis is one of the leading causes of death around the world today. Sepsis arises when the body’s response to an infection damages its own tissues and organs. It can lead to shock, multiple organ failure, and death, especially if it is not recognized early and treated promptly. Between one-third and one-half of all sepsis patients die. In developing countries, sepsis accounts for 60-80% of all deaths. It kills more than 6 million infants and young children, and 100,000 new mothers every year. Every few seconds, someone in the world dies of sepsis.” – www.world-sepsis-day.org
One of the most important steps towards reducing morbidity and mortality from sepsis in the developing world is to enable community health workers to easily identify the early symptoms of the disease.
A common and life-threatening manifestation of sepsis is a reduced ability of a person’s lungs to transfer oxygen to their blood. So if a person’s blood oxygen levels are lower than normal, then this is a key indicator that they need immediate medical intervention.
Blood oxygen levels can be easily and accurately measured with a pulse oximeter. However, the use of pulse oximetry in low-income countries is limited by the high initial equipment cost and the ongoing cost of repairs for current commercial oximeters.
That’s why we developed the Kenek Clip™ pulse oximeter. Based on the innovations first developed as the Phone Oximeter, it works by plugging the fingertip sensor into the audio jack on a smartphone. Phones are widely available even in remote areas of the developing world so our technology provides low-cost vital signs monitoring for everyone, everywhere.
"When a patient enters the pathway to sepsis the heart and lungs are vital organs that are affected. When someone with an infection has a high heart rate as well as a low blood oxygen level due to the reduced function of the lungs they might well be on the pathway to sepsis. Sepsis is almost always the cause of death in severe infections, such as pneumonia, which is the leading cause of death in children under the age of five in the developing world. Both of these vital signs – pulse rate and blood oxygen level - can be quickly and easily measured with a non-invasive fingertip pulse oximeter."
Dr. Mark Ansermino, pediatric anesthesiologist, BC Children’s Hospital