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Operating Room

How to Improve Patient Safety in the Operating Room

“First do no harm” is a guiding principle for many doctors and clinicians, and its meaning holds extra weight in an operating room.

Almost everything in an operating room could be harmful, from the surgical implements to the power running through the heart monitor to the germs in the very air. That being the case, how can medical computer technology, robust asset tracking, and even robotic-assisted surgery work harder to safeguard patients?

What are the most common dangers in the operating room, and how can they be controlled and contained?

Fighting Sepsis in the Operating Room

Sepsis — or, the condition of extreme infection — is a common enemy in the hospital, affecting more than a million patients in the United States alone. A third of those inflicted don’t survive.

Luckily, modern medical technology is both decreasing the chances of infection, and improving the outlook of those who suffer from it. Techniques like ultra-violet radiation exposure, employed during the procedure itself to lower surgical-site bacteria, have been around for decades.

However, there are more recent methods that can reinforce the sterile field of the operating room.

What are the benefits of a sealed medical computer?

Medical computers and medical LCD monitors equipped with antimicrobial housing can reduce the surface level of bacteria-friendly growth areas in the OR. The antimicrobial housing on these units also complements the dust-tight and splash-resistant front bezel.

With an IP65 rating for particle and liquid breach, medical monitors and computers in an operating room can be thoroughly sterilized by spraying them and rubbing them down with many of the same chemicals already being employed by the sanitation staff.

A newer innovation, fanless design, means that the medical monitor or medical computer can stay cool without the use of a fan. Fan’s are traditionally a huge weak point in any computer system. They move air through the machine, which — in an operating room — can create a pocket of infection that is then sprayed all around the area. Which is why a computer or monitor without a fan is so helpful to surgeons and anesthesiologists inside the OR.

This impenetrable design also means that bacteria, infected liquids, and dust-born pathogens can’t enter and fester inside of the dark, warm environment typical of most computers.

These modern medical computer construction methods eliminate one more infection vector inside the operating room.

How Does Robot-Assisted Surgery Help Patients?

Robot-assisted surgery allows surgeons to operate in tiny spaces, but with all the dexterity (or more) of their normal process.

How it works: One to four tiny cuts are made, depending on the surgery, into which the thin robotic arms are inserted. These arms are equipped with various tools, custom-equipped for the procedure at hand — and, of course, micro-cameras and lights. The surgeon then controls the limbs from a nearby console, which allows them to perform the surgery and even magnify the picture to an extent unmatched by human eyes.

The other bonus to robot-assisted surgery is — because the surgery cuts are so small — they heal faster, are less likely to get infected, and cause far less pain to the patient in the long run.

And while robot-assisted surgery has been around for a little bit, recent advances may allow surgeons to use the process to operate on areas that used to be far too cramped and complex: the spine, and the brain.

One of the newer robotic surgery assistants is the digital microscope, exemplified by the Modus V made by Synaptive Medical Inc. Positioned above the patient during surgery, robotic digital microscopes can provide the surgical team with unprecedented access to even the smallest components of the body’s complex nervous system.

Robot-assisted surgery ensures that no big problem is too small, and that the patient’s surgery and recovery is priority #1 for the hospital who leverages it.                                                                                                 

The Dangers of Long-Distance Anesthesia

A recent study found that not only are anesthesiologists performing more of their in-surgery duties from outside of the operating room, but that this trend may be having proven consequences to patient health. Malpractice claims for death involving anesthesiologists who were in another room increased by over 20%, as did respiratory damage and inadequate oxygenation events.

The study went on to conclude that these remote location events could have been prevented by better (and closer) monitoring.

The primary reason for an anesthesiologist being outside of the operating theatre is his or her computer. A standard computer or laptop uses fans to cool the CPU and motherboard, to keep everything running at the right operating temperature. As we learned earlier, fans in an operating room are a huge liability, spreading infected air and debris all around the room.

A fanless medical computer allows an anesthesiologist to stay in the room, increasing patient safety, improving their own organization and efficiency, and keeping the surgery team all together in the same space.

How Does Asset Tracking Make the Operating Room Safer?

It’s a sad fact that the average warehouse has a more robust asset-tracking system than any hospital or operating theater.

Asset tracking isn’t about inventory, necessarily — it’s about knowing where every important instrument and tool is located, what condition it’s in, and whether or not it’s ready for use.

Tracking Surgical Instruments

A scalpel or clamp or other surgical instruments could be stamped with a barcode. This barcode is then scanned by a medical tablet, which tracks its progress through both the hospital and its own life and use cycle.

If all instruments are scanned after being sterilized, and then scanned after being double checked, and then scanned when they leave a storage area and head to the OR, it reduces errors in the supply chain and increases accountability.

When a nurse in the operating room opens a fresh tray of instruments and scans their barcodes, they’ll have access to the full picture of that instrument. They can confirm it’s been properly sterilized and even sent to the right operating room for the correct operation.

Digital Asset Tracking for Blood Transfusions

Barcodes and RFID tags are already in use to track blood units and eliminate potential errors.

Blood for transfusion is as common in an OR as scrubs, which is why it’s so important that proper, modern asset tracking and inventory practices apply. A patient receiving the wrong blood type during surgery can even be fatal — the body’s immune system attempts to “fight” the new blood, which can lead to catastrophic health issues.

A tracking system for blood units, one paired with the wristband of the patient, does an excellent job of minimizing the chance of the kind of small snafus that can turn into huge problems.

Risk is Our Business

Surgery will always carry an element of risk, and no OR will ever be completely free of danger. However, embracing modern medical computers and the latest safety techniques can increase patient safety and improve the conditions of the operating room for the staff as well.
Reach out to Cybernet to learn more about how modern medical computers, monitors, and tablets can increase workflow and reduce the chance of infection.

4 Tips to Manage This Year’s Flu Season

As every winter, the annual flu season — and the subsequent flu season panic — is upon us.

While the flu can be uncomfortable at best and downright deadly at worst, there is good news: 2018/2019’s outbreak is turning out to be much milder than last year’s devastating season.

The other good news is that medical techniques, and medical technology, have never been more prepared for it. From heightened awareness and public education to better medication and bacteria-resistant medical computers, the flu has a formidable foe this year.

1. Don’t Panic: the Numbers Are Down

Make no mistake — the flu can be extremely dangerous, and will cause fatalities throughout the country. The elderly and the very young are in the most danger, which is why it’s advised that those groups especially get a flu vaccination.

For the 2017/2018 flu season, deaths from flu topped 80,000, a tragic record. Last season had the highest number of fatalities and hospitalizations in the last ten years. This year is already looking milder, with deaths from flu and pneumonia far below the usual range this season, according to the CDC.

This doesn’t mean there should be no concern —  as we approach the peak of the season, infections will increase, as will hospitalizations. And, the flu season can sometimes last all the way into March, giving plenty of time for conditions to change.

But, clinicians like Dr. Stephen Schneckel, VP of Population Health Quality in Iowa report that they’re “not seeing as many cases as we did last year.”

2. Visit Up-To-Date Clinics with the Newest Technology

Sneezing into your elbow and using lots of hand sanitizer is still a great idea, but luckily medical computers and other technology found in hospitals and doctor’s offices are also helping to battle influenza.

Modern offices have medical computers made with antimicrobial plastic that kill bacteria on contact. Since computers are such a hotspot of use (and thus, passing bacteria from hand to hand), these advances are extremely helpful in reducing infections of all kinds for staff and patient alike.

Fanless medical computers are also being used in offices and hospitals to combat the spread of germs. Computers typically require a fan to keep internal components cool. While this keeps the computer operational, the fan spread germs and bacteria through the air. Fanless cooling technology eliminates this type of air circulation, mitigating the risk of airborne infection.  

These medical computers are also be sealed for liquid and particle intrusion (IP65 rating), meaning they can be frequently sprayed down and scrubbed with disinfectant to stop any viruses or bacteria from lingering on the surface.

The modern, fully-updated doctor’s office or hospital with this kind of technology is going to be a far safer place to visit because of these germ-fighting innovations. 

3. Don’t Wait: Flu Shots Are Everywhere

Vaccines have proven incredibly potent against influenza. This year, doctors and specialists are reporting that the shot may be particularly effective. Richard Webby at the CDC says that the current shot can reduce the risk of having to seek medical care for flu “by 40%.”

The vaccine that’s been prepared this year matches (and thus targets) the most common strain of H1N1 that’s been going around this season, a fortunate break that puts the shot at maximum efficacy. Vaccines are, in a way, a kind of guess. It’s impossible to inject a vaccine for every possible strain of the flu into every single person, so doctors and experts make an educated guess — backed by observation and statistics — as to which strains will prove the most harmful or the most virulent. These vaccines are then given to the public.

A vaccine isn’t a bullet-proof vest, but it can help reduce the worst of the inherent risk.

Luckily, flu shots are more readily available now then they’ve ever been. Beyond doctor’s offices and hospitals, there are drug stores, colleges, employers, and even grocery stores that host doctors and other clinicians to administer the shot.

Innovations in the shot itself have also been spreading. Many clinics are offering the LAIV (live-attenuated influenza vaccine), a nasal spray that takes the place of the flu shot for those unable to get the regular injection.

Mobile medical clinics are also making the rounds in metropolitan areas. These mobile clinics are usually fully equipped — you can enter your information in a medical tablet or mounted panel PC, get the shot, and then be on your merry way with one more concern off your plate.

4. Stay as Isolated As You Can

You don’t have to pack up your things and move to a Tibetan mountaintop or anything, but there are wise precautions to take to limit your exposure to the virus.

At work or school, during flu season, avoid using anyone else’s phone, computer, stapler, etc. Any frequently-handled item is going to be a danger zone, so stick to your own gear.

Borrowing or browsing someone else’s cell phone in particular should be avoided at all costs, and you should clean your own phone as often as you can: a study by the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences at the University of Arizona found that the average cell phone has “10 times more bacteria than most toilet seats.”

And, lastly, if you are sick don’t go to work. Don’t go to school. Don’t visit with your grandparents. Take care of yourself as best as you can, open up the windows to get some fresh air (weather permitting), and allow yourself to convalesce. If you’re worried about losing productivity, remember that making the whole office or classroom sick is about as productivity-crushing as burning the building down.

It’s Not Too Late to Get a Vaccine

Yes, the flu seasons is already upon us, and yes the vaccine can take a week or two to kick in. However, “flu season” is the name of a yearly trend, it’s not a locked closet that the flu can’t escape.

There’s plenty of flu season left, and there are plenty of folks who come down with the flu outside of the season. And even if you do end up getting infected after receiving the shot, the length and severity of the illness may be greatly decreased because of the vaccine.

With fully-stocked mobile clinics and easy-to-clean medical computers, it’s never been easier or more effective to get a flu shot and ride out the rest of the year in peace.

Contact Cybernet to learn more about deploying medical computers and tablets with antimicrobial housings and fanless cooling systems to fight infection.

 

medical computers and computers on wheels

4 Must Have Features for Clean Environment Computer

Walk into any hospital emergency room and one might immediately worry about being exposed to germs and illnesses. It’s a very real problem, as nearly 100,000 people die of nosocomial infections (illnesses contracted while receiving care for a different issue) every year.

There are a number of areas in a hospital where the average patient never sets foot. It’s the behind the scenes areas where contamination and the spread of illness need to be eliminated completely. Operating rooms are famously sterile environments. Hospital labs, infectious disease wards, and compounding pharmacies need to be absolutely sterile as well, otherwise, patient safety is put at extreme risk.

Here are four features that every medical computer used in these environments must have to ensure a sterile environment.

The Medical Computer Should be Antimicrobial

This might seem like a no-brainer, but a lot of hospitals still use commercial grade computers throughout their facilities. But the threat of the spread of infection should make these facilities think twice when it comes to their sterile rooms. Imagine a lab tech working with a sample, entering data into their computer, and then running a lab test later that day. If bacteria can survive on the computer, it could potentially contaminate every test run until the computer has been disinfected.

Another area of concern would be in infectious disease wards where patients are quarantined. While every precaution is taken before entering the room, a healthcare practitioner could still carry something harmful into the room with them. If the computer becomes a breeding ground for harmful microbes, a healthcare worker could easily transmit that to a patient while recording vitals or checking a patient’s medical records.

Medical grade computers have antimicrobial housings to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria. But even here, not all antimicrobial computers are created equally. Some use a coating applied after the manufacturing process is complete. These coating will inevitably degrade over time. It is important to look for a medical grade computer that has the antimicrobial properties baked directly into the plastic housing to ensure that there is no degradation and patients are protected for the entire life of the computer.

You Need a Fanless Medical Computer

We have had conversations with hospital IT administrators that have admitted that their anesthesiologists have to sit outside of the operating room because their computers weren’t certified to be used in the OR. Why, you ask? Because their computers used a traditional fanned cooling system. This is a particular hazard during surgery, as fans can accumulate dust and microbes and then blow them around once activated. If the patient is on the operating table, the last thing you want is for the computer that is supposed to be keeping them safe to be the source of infection.

Fanless medical computers use lower power consumption components, fewer moving parts, and heat sinks to eliminate the need for a fan. By eliminating the fan, you eliminate the risk of harmful particulates being spread around. In addition, these units tend to have a much longer lifespan. Fans not only tend to be the first component that fails on a lot of computers, but it also is where dust can get inside and damage components. By removing the fan, you remove a major cause for hardware failure, extending the life of the computer.

The Computer Should be IP65 Rated

That unmistakable antiseptic smell that dominates your senses when you walk into a hospital is there for a good reason. Hospitals are constantly being cleaned with harsh disinfecting chemicals to try to prevent the spread of germs as best as they can. That includes equipment. How exactly do you disinfect a commercial grade computer without running the risk of damaging the unit itself? It’s tricky to say the least.

Medical computers are designed to be IP65 rated. This is an international standard that tests whether or not a device is protected from water and dust ingress. You can actually watch a video demonstrating IP65 protection here. If a computer is IP65 rated, that means cleaning staff can spray down computer equipment and clean them without any need to worry about whether or not their unit will get damaged or need repairs. This is an extremely important consideration when it comes to mitigating the risk of nosocomial infections while also protecting your hardware investment.

You Need Multiple Mounting Options

Imagine a compounding pharmacy where IV medication bags are prepared. Table space is at a premium, and a desktop tower with a monitor is going to get in the way more often than not. Even the heat that a traditional tower computer generates could adversely affect a medication if it’s too close to the work area. An anesthesia machine might need to be wheeled from one operating room to the next as needed. The computer running the anesthesia application needs to be just as mobile. Computers mounted in a patient room in an infectious disease ward would probably serve the greatest purpose if it could be pivoted back and forth on a wall mount so information and test results can easily be shared with the patient.

It is important to choose a medical grade computer that is VESA compatible to provide you with a number of mounting options. Whether that be on a mobile medical cart or a wall mount, being able to place your computer wherever you need it, without it getting in the way of workflow, will save time and money in the form of improved productivity.

Patient safety is the primary concern for any hospital or healthcare facility. That extends all the way to the IT hardware you choose. At Cybernet, we design and manufacture a complete line of medical grade computes that have been engineered to meet the specific needs of the healthcare industry. To find out more you can contact us here.