Each year, hundreds of thousands of patients come to the ER experiencing life threatening events such as possible carbon monoxide poisoning or heart attacks, attending doctors in a medical institution rely on the current standard blood gas analyzers to diagnose the oxygen-carrying capabilities of blood, blood gases and electrolytes. Normally, these type of tests are taken with an arterial blood sample (typically an artery in the arm), and are then sent off to a central lab, where a bench top unit uses spectroscopy and electrochemical sensor measurements to provide results. It can take hours to get the results.
But what if a lab in a hospital is not an option and time may be ticking for first responders at a scene of a fire or when a heart attack patient is being transported?
A new technology developed by Toronto-based ChroMedx called HemoPalm, is working to address this. The HemoPalm utilizes a small sample of blood with a simple finger prick, providing a result on the spot, with no specialist required. The technology is especially beneficial to first responders, such as paramedics, who can take the blood sample right at the scene and then transfer the data back to the hospital before the patient even arrives when time is crucial as in the case with fire victims as paramedics cannot tell how badly the patient has been poisoned by carbon monoxide. The information can then be transmitted back to the hospital before the patient is wheeled into the ER triage.
Aside from the first responders, the technology can be used for physicians at disaster relief such as Doctors without Borders, emerging economies or in the military where central laboratories may not exist or may be too far away.
In a hospital, the HemoPalm could simplifying sample collection and expediting patient results, both in the emergency department and the operating room, where the device could replace multiple machines currently in use. Another use would be for respiratory care, allowing respiratory therapists and visiting nurses to optimize treatment in the hospital and at home with comprehensive results of oxygen in the blood.