Life-saving ‘app’ for iPhone

A consultant at the Royal United Hospital in Bath has developed what is currently one of the iPhone’s most popular medical applications and one that could also save a life.

Almost 2,500 people (mainly UK doctors) downloaded it in the first week and since then it has been downloaded at a rate of more than 1,200 per week.

In collaboration with the Resuscitation Council (UK) and, Dr Daniel Low, consultant anaesthetist, produced the application, which guides the user when resuscitating critically ill patients in cardiac arrest or near cardiac arrest.

Although clinicians are trained to know what to do when someone suffers a cardiac arrest, this application functions like a check list and has been built in the context of a clinical scenario. Depending on the age and condition of the patient, the user follows certain prompts to remind them of what to do.

A more basic version can also be downloaded and used by people with first-aid training or those who are community responders.

Low’s invention was inspired by working alongside ex-military, air-ambulance helicopter pilots. He saw that, during in-flight emergencies, these highly trained airmen would refer to instruction cards, or flight reference charts, which guided them through the crisis and helped to reduce the margin for human error. Low realised that a similar system could also assist medics when they are faced with a cardiac arrest.

He said: ’Even though doctors and nurses are trained to deal with someone having a cardiac arrest, it’s not a situation they will face every day and I thought both medics and patients would benefit from an application such as this.’

The application, called iResus, is the result of close collaboration with the Resuscitation Council – a nationally recognised organisation that produces resuscitation guidelines for healthcare professionals and first aiders.

Dr Jerry Nolan, also an anaesthetist at the Royal United Hospital and former chairman of the Resuscitation Council (UK), said: ’Lots of people now have smartphones of one kind or another and, to be able to have a device like this, which is constantly updated, accessible within seconds and which automatically replaces old guidelines with new, is fantastic. Daniel’s work with the Resuscitation Council shows how medicine and patient care is embracing day-to-day technology to maximum effect.’

It took Low, who joined the Royal United Hospital as a registrar in April 2009, eight months to develop iResus with a business partner, an expert in computer software design. He believes other medical conditions could also benefit from applications of this type.

’We have already had enquiries from specialists in fields such as stroke, asthma and anaphylaxis and we are keen to work with other professional bodies to see if we can adapt iResus to distribute their guidelines onto the iPhones of their members.’

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