Can mHealth technology make surgery safer?

The WHO has stated that a critical need is that every operating room in the world should have a simple, essential device that can save tens of thousands of lives – a blood oxygen monitor.  More than half the hospital operating rooms in low-income countries lack a blood oxygen monitor (also known as a pulse oximeter), crucial for helping frontline clinicians prevent fatal oxygen starvation in patients during anesthesia.

The odds of surviving surgery in the developing world aren’t in favor of the patient. The number of people dying while undergoing surgery in developing regions is up to 1,000 times greater than in high-resource countries.

Unsafe operating conditions throughout the world are responsible for seven million deaths and serious injuries annually. While there are many factors at play in this outcome, many of these deaths could be prevented with simple mHealth technologies such as mobile pulse oximetry. It monitors patients during surgery, ensuring they’re at safe anesthesia levels. Add in blood pressure monitoring and the odds of a patient surviving surgery increase significantly.

The multi-parameter anesthesia kit includes the fundamental vital signs monitors that should be in all operating rooms to facilitate safer surgeries throughout the world. The anesthesia kit is designed for low-resource health care settings and not available for sale in the US.

pulse oximeter finger sensor

As a pediatric anesthesiologist, innovative sensor technology such as pulse oximetry has radically improved the safety of anesthesia in my hospital. In low resource areas, many clinics - even hospitals - don’t have pulse oximeters. If they were available in every operating theatre and every emergency room, thousands of lives would be saved.

Dr. Mark Ansermino
BC Children’s Hospital