Aviation safety techniques to benefit heart patients

August 10, 2012 // By Anne-Françoise PELE
Aviation safety systems can be used to help prevent complications after surgery according to UK researchers.

A team of researchers from the Academic Surgery Unit at University Hospital of South Manchester is collaborating with Lancaster University to develop a real-time patient monitoring and risk prediction system for use in operating theaters and intensive care units that is similar to those used by pilots to monitor the safety of their aircraft.
Among other benefits, researchers outlined the real-time analysis and prediction of multiple physiological parameters and the ability to change parameters ranges and alert thresholds for individual patients. The system also gives the ability to incorporate multiple clinical predictions.
“There are a lot of parallels between flying an aircraft and observing a critically ill patient. Both the surgeon and the pilot are dealing with a lot of information coming from a variety of sensors. They both need to know not only what is happening now but what might happen in the future and safety is absolutely critical," commented Lancaster University Aviation Security expert Professor Garik Makarian.

He added: “During a flight a pilot has to make decisions based on complex information coming from up to 1,000 sensors in the plane. He or she needs to know, not only what is happening to the aircraft right at this moment, but what is likely to happen in the future."
Pursuing the parallel between aviation and health, Makarian explained that, when a patient is critically ill or recovering from surgery, doctors monitor the patient’s blood pressure, temperature, pulse and other vital signs very closely but have to rely on their experience to predict what is likely to happen next. Pilots have the additional benefit of tools to help them do that.
The system under development has the potential to give doctors an extra layer of intelligence to draw upon, Makarian claimed.
Prof. Makarian indicated that the system is a software package which could be integrated with more or less any existing system in the hospital environment.
The current model uses