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Nurses view patients' heart rate on the go

May 12, 2011

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Sunnybrook's Schulich Heart Centre is the first in Canada to provide nurses and other healthcare professionals with wireless handheld devices to monitor cardiac waveforms and receive critical internal communications.

"Nurses can now view a patient's cardiac waveform on the go," says Susan Michaud, operations director for the Schulich Heart Centre. "Having remote access to alerts and heart equipment alarms means that there is enhanced communication, allowing the appropriate staff to respond to patients more efficiently."

The technology solution links the hospital's Philips cardiac telemetry monitoring system with a handheld device from Cisco, using event management software from Philips Emergin.  The new technology is in place in the 16-bed Dr. Brian W. Gilbert cardiac intensive care unit and the 36-bed Schulich cardiac unit (D3) and allows nurses to view a six-second waveform within a few seconds. Cardiac telemetry is the continuous monitoring of a patient's heart and rhythm, which generally takes place at a central monitoring station by a dedicated telemetry nurse.

"This new technology lets me see heart rhythms right away so I can quickly respond to my patients' needs. I can also easily message with the right people, so it has improved communication greatly on the unit," says Metilda Manuel, a registered nurse in the Schulich cardiac unit.

The new solution also reduces ambient noise from overhead pages as handheld devices provide direct communication between staff. "When healthcare providers are not physically in a patient's room, they rely on overhead pages, which can potentially increase the environmental stress in a hospital unit," adds Michaud.

Next steps for the project include the ability for a patient to call a nurse directly from the bedside.

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