Heart Association council disputes reliability of sphygmomanometers
A committee of the American Heart Association delivered a stinging rebuke of healthcare technology management practices in an editorial published in February by the journal Hypertension.

The editorial authors, all members of the American Heart Association’s Council for High Blood Pressure Research, took issue with the practice of replacing “gold standard” mercury manometers with electronic or aneroid devices for non-invasive blood pressure (NIPB) measurement. The group believes non-mercury NIBP techniques have not been clinically validated for hypertension screening, are selected without proper technology assessment and are not adequately inspected or maintained in practice.

“Most manufacturers of these instruments recommend calibration against a mercury manometer every six months. However, few hospitals and clinics have a regular program of evaluation and calibration,” wrote Daniel W. Jones, MD, lead author of the editorial. He also noted that most instruments must be returned to the manufacturer for calibration.

Your Weight on Other Planets

imageThe Worm felt portly, so to cheer up, he decided to discover what he’d weigh as a Mars-worm, a Neptune-worm or even a Sun-worm. Childish? Our stocky slitherer thought it was child-like curiosity and visited enchantedlearning.com, a site to inspire investigative kids.

websiteEnchanted Learning Software was started by Jeananda Col and Mitchell Steven Spector, two smart folks who attended MIT in the late 1970s. “We believe that children learn the most (and retain it the longest) when they are actively involved in educational pursuits that are clear, logical, stimulating, and fun,” their playful pages told the regressing round-one.

By the way, our solar-squirmo would weigh five pounds on the Sun … for about 10 microseconds!


Pediatric CT technique draws unexpected attention
Public accounts that erroneously linked cancer with high computed tomography (CT) settings for pediatric patients blew researchers’ findings out of proportion, said Lane F. Donnelly, M.D., co-author of two of three articles on pediatric CT in the February issue of American Journal of Roentgenology and associate director of the radiology department at Cincinnati (Ohio) Children’s Hospital.

Studies did show that radiation dosage and other adjustments were not being made for children, particularly in hospitals catering to an adult population. Consequently, children were exposed to radiation levels five times higher than necessary.

In the first paper, 58 body helical CT examinations were investigated. Information recorded included mA, kVp, collimation and pitch. Those results, the study concludes, “suggest that pediatric patients may be exposed to an unnecessarily high radiation dose during body CT.”

Bio-Tek sets OTIS free
Big news from Winooski, Vt.: OTIS, Bio-Tek’s data-collection software, can now be downloaded at no cost from Bio-Tek’s Web site, www.biotek.com.

OTIS allows a personal computer to communicate and control test equipment through an RS-232 serial port. It is being made available in two versions: Runtime, which includes 63 pre-programmed test procedures and checklists for Bio-Tek test equipment used to check specific medical devices; and the Builder version, which can be customized to create new test procedures and will communicate with any device that has RS-232 capability.

Bio-Tek also announced a partnership with one of the oldest shared-service organizations in the U.S., the Technical Services Program (TSP) of the University of Vermont.Included in the project are: organizational concepts and requirements, instrumentation specifications, training, engineering projects, and regulatory interpretation. Said Peter Weith, vice president of Bio-Tek, “This partnership is good for our customers and will help insure we develop the right products with the right features.”

TSP was one of the original Kellogg Foundation Grant programs in 1973.

Integrated applications rule annual HIMSS conference

An estimated 18,000 attendees ventured to New Orleans in February for the annual conference and exhibition of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). More than 175 educational sessions and more than 600 exhibitors were featured, and for the second year, HIMSS joined with the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) to demonstrate Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE).

The majority of buzz at the show came from vendors who claimed to have cured HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), even though requirements of the new medical records law remain in flux. Runner-up was wireless, with hundreds of devices vying for hospital airtime.

EMS Wireless (Atlanta) showed an advanced Mobile Clinical Workstation II, with Intel Pentium III 866 MHz processor for high data-rate applications such as video conferencing, and the entry-level Mobile Clinical Workstation LT, with a price tag under $3,500. Both have a height-adjustable work surface, battery supply and 802.11b wireless networking using OpenAir 2.4 GHz or 900MHz links.

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