July 28, 2006
by Diana Gonzalez
Miami -- When hospitalized patients need intensive care, their conditions require close monitoring. At two south Florida hospitals, that's being done at bedside, and miles away, with some high tech help.
Ruth Naylor is also recovering from major surgery at one of south Miami Hospital's intensive care units. In addition to the nurses here, an extra pair of eyes is keeping a close watch 9 miles away.
The command center for E-ICU lifeguard is in Doral. Special computer software keeps track of vital signs and test results. A microphone and camera in each intensive care room helps them look at and listen to the patient.
Dr. Loren Nelson is the medical director. "We're looking for problems before they manifest themselves and are very obvious to anyone who happens to be at the bedside."
Nurses monitoring the computers get instant access to test results. Color coded alerts help prioritize any developing problems.
Back at the hospital doctors and nurses say the system is helping. Sandra McLean, RN, nurse manager says, "We've seen them catch labs that were abnormal that the primary nurse had not had a chance to look at yet. They brought it to our attention so we intervene more timely."
David Galbut, MD, says, "Before problems occur, I'm being informed about them earlier."
Patients we talked to says the additional electronic care gives them peace of mind. Patient Carl Durnburg said, "I was anxious but up until the last two days my anxiety level dropped way down because of the monitoring."
There are about 120 hospital across the country using a similar system right now.