While in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I had a chance to use a Lifebox – the low cost, very reliable pulse oximeter developed as part of ‘safe surgery’ initiatives for low income countries. http://www.lifebox.org Although I personally have some concerns with the promotion of this tool as means for ensuring “safe surgery”, it is certainly a valuable tool in the operating room.
Particularly in low resource areas, where trained medical providers are in short supply, this device could have more widespread application throughout the hospital, For example: in crowded emergency/casualty wards- a quick pulse oximetry reading could assist with patient triage; in intensive care/highcare units- it could help determine whether a patient was improving or not with therapy; on regular wards- it could help determine if a patient was in need of more timely treatment or transfer to a highcare unit. And because it is so easy to use, non-physician providers can use this device to help identify those patients in need of additional attention from trained providers, thus better leveraging the skilled providers’ services.
The developers of Lifebox are to be congratulated,as this easy-to-use device has the potential to make a significant impact on patient outcomes throughout the hospital.