Plane accidents have declined dramatically since the early years of aviation mainly due to strict safety protocols. As a result, flying is today much safer than driving to the airport, not to mention surgery. But what exactly accounts for the difference?
Five years ago, the World Health Organization asked the same question and came up with a simple safety checklist for surgeons, nurses, and anesthesiologists that can be used from New York to Nairobi to improve surgery outcomes.
I Can Feel Your Heartbeat: GE’s Carestation may aid doctors in reducing complications from surgery in Africa.
The list walks medical staff through 19 easy steps, from doctor and nurse introductions and patient identification to the timing of medication delivery and making sure the pulse oximeter – the plastic fingertip clip that measures the amount of oxygen in the blood – is secured to the patient and functioning. Sounds simple, but a number of studies have found that the checklist can reduce surgical complications by 35 percent and deaths by 47 percent. Health experts estimate that widespread adoption of the checklist could save at least a half million lives each year.
Take the simple pulse oximeter. Once a patient starts losing oxygen, doctors have only a few minutes before hypoxia sets in and the risk of brain damage, heart failure and death spikes. Yet GE has found that, despite pulse oximetry being established as a standard of care more than 20 years ago, it is often not used in rural areas, especially outside of developed countries.
GE decided fix this critical monitoring need and developed the Carestation 30 anesthesia delivery system. It provides clinicians with the right monitoring tools, including integrated pulse oximetry, that help improve the quality of care for patients. One key aspect of the compact and relatively inexpensive system is a battery that lasts up to six hours, a critical component in the midst of intermittent power.
GE has already launched the system across English-speaking Africa and will partner with local anesthesiologists to conduct training on the new product. “In Africa GE is working hard to bring better health to more people by leveraging the best of our resources, expertise, products and solutions to address the needs of citizens across the continent,” Farid Fezoua, President and CEO of GE Healthcare in Africa. “Given the access issues facing the region, advancing surgery in the rural primary care setting, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa is a key area of focus.”