App could save the lives of burns victims in combat

1 min read

A former soldier has developed an app that could save the lives of burns victims in combat and in hospitals around the world.

Chris Seaton, formerly a captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps and now a PhD student studying Computer Science at Manchester University, created the iPhone and iPad application after seeing the injuries that burns caused to fellow soldiers.

Seaton, who carried out the research alongside Rowan Pritchard Jones and Prof Paul McArthur, plastic surgeons at St Helens and Knowsley NHS Trust and academics at Liverpool University, has produced research, together with Liverpool University, that reportedly reduces the possibility of errors in treating burns victims.

According to a statement, administering the right amount of fluids is critical in order to increase the likelihood of surviving burns injuries. Traditionally, doctors will have to make a quick series of pen and paper calculations to assess the ideal amount.

The margin for error on doing this is said to be high and the process is also time consuming. The app — dubbed Mersey Burns — allows for exact and quick calculations.

On a touchscreen phone, the user colours in the sufferer’s burnt area on a computer model of a torso, adds in the person’s age and weight (estimated if not exactly known), and the precise amounts of fluids are instantly calculated.

Because it can be used on a phone, the calculations can be made anywhere, but people can also call a doctor, who can use the app to generate the result.

Tests carried out by the research team showed that the iPhone app reduced errors made by pen and paper by a third.

Seaton said: ‘There is great possibility for creating really innovative technology by pairing up small touchscreen devices with medicine.

‘Even simple ideas can make a big difference and all it takes is a doctor getting together with a computer scientist to make it a reality.’

The app was awarded a £5,000 prize at the NHS North West Health Innovation and Education Cluster Excellence in Innovation Awards 2011.