Straight Talk

 As pulse oximetry technology advances, manufacturers such as Nellcor, based in Pleasanton, Calif, strive to expand its clinical uses. RT spoke with Dan Roth, director of marketing, Nellcor Oximetry, about the company’s new technology that monitors high-risk postsurgical patients on the general care floor and about the benefits of having a memory chip inside the sensor.

Q: What issues are on top of the clinical agenda from your customer’s standpoint?
Without a doubt, patient safety is top of mind for customers. Hospitals today are moving patients from high-acuity to low-acuity areas faster than ever before. At the same time, nurse-to-patient ratios are decreasing. As a result, nurses are becoming more dependent than ever on monitoring technologies and additional clinicians, such as respiratory therapists, to support these patients.

In addition, new regulations from JCAHO that require nurses to be able to hear any alarm that sounds and know where it came from are driving the development of new patient monitoring approaches.

Q: How can new monitoring technology specifically designed for the general care floor help patients and RTs?
Nellcor has been an advocate of monitoring on the general care floor and has developed a remote telemetry system that allows clinicians to do just that. The Oxinet® III is a computer-based telemetry system that takes the pulse oximeter monitor’s input and allows for remote alarm and paging. It can be either a hardwired or RF-based system, depending on the hospital’s requirements.

In essence, the patient wears an oximetry sensor that continuously detects an oxygen saturation. Depending on the parameters established by the respiratory therapist or the clinician, the monitor will sound either at a central station managed by a nurse or other clinician, or to a pager worn by a nurse or respiratory therapist.

This gives the clinician specific information as to the desaturation event while away from the bedside and meets the new JCAHO requirements for alarm management.

Q: What is the difference between a regular sensor and one with a memory chip?
One of the main features of our latest technology—the OxiMax® System—is that some of the intelligence has been moved from the monitor to the sensor. The key benefit to the clinician and ultimately to the patient is in the specific sensors that can be designed. Conventional sensors are governed by a fixed calibration programmed into the monitor, whereas OxiMax moves the calibration out to the sensor. As a result, specialty sensors can be designed for use on some of the most challenging patients.

The digital chip also enables us to store event data on the sensor. So when a patient moves from bed to bed or unit to unit, their event history can move with them, helping to ensure continuity of care.

Q: Why would RTs want to use them?
OxiMax is the pulse oximetry platform of the future. By breaking free of old monitor and sensor paradigms, we can continually design new sensor technologies, like the MAX-FAST® forehead sensor and the SoftCare™ nonadhesive sensor, that are not possible with conventional pulse oximetry. For RTs, this means new, more flexible solutions to meet the changing needs of their patients.