Student-designed Computer System Could Lead to Safer Surgery

Bucknell University

April, 2017
Student-designed Computer System Could Lead to Safer Surgery
From left, students Dikendra Karki, graduate student Farooq Gessa, Sarah Xu, and professor Philip Asare

A group of engineering students from Bucknell University collaborated with anesthesiologists and computer scientists to develop a platform that aims to reduce the cognitive burden of anesthesia teams in the operating room.

With a delicate balancing act of drugs and therapies in response to vital signs in the OR, anesthesiologists are subject to risk-increasing fatigue over the hours. With a prototype computer system that, the researchers look to allow the various monitors, pumps, and systems to communicate with each other and automatically response to changes in the patient’s vital signs.

“Let’s say the patient monitor is sensing heartbeat and blood pressure. If there’s a sudden change in blood pressure, the system is going to see that change,” explained electrical engineering student Win Kyaw. “When it drops below a certain limit that we’ve programmed, the system will change the function of the IV pump to either pump medicine faster or stop the infusion, and then alert the doctor if necessary.”

While not a replacement for medical personnel, the system would reduce the risk of cognitive errors as complications arise, allowing automation to work hand-in-hand with medical staff. “It can possibly save a lot of lives in conditions that are sometimes fatal,” expressed Dikendra Karki, another electrical engineering student on the team. “That’s the thing that excites me the most.”

To read more about the research and the next steps for their project, click here.

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