When a patient is intubated and on a ventilator, communication becomes a serious problem and can cause severe anxiety for many. Thanks to electronic tablets becoming ubiquitous, a nurse at the College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University has developed an app that can help patients rendered mute to communicate their needs and wishes.
The Speak for Myself app from Rebecca Koszalinski, R.N., Ph.D. offers an easily controlled pain scale, as well as a way to show where something hurts thanks to a graphic displaying a human body. There are also options to request to be repositioned, to ask for suctioning, and notify when one needs to empty one’s bowels.
Since many patients on a ventilator are “not fully there,” there are easily accessible shortcuts and automatic interpretation of single words so that not as much typing is necessary.
Researchers tested the application on patients aged 45 to 91 within cardiovascular, neurological, and surgical intensive care units. They showed that the app indeed does help patients communicate and even lead to improvement in care.
From the announcement:
In one example, a patient who had reported unresolved pain in the back of his throat was finally able to get assessed properly. Health care providers learned that it was the nasogastric tube that had become twisted and was causing his pain. They corrected the placement of the tube and resolved the issue. Perhaps the most dramatic example for clear communication was demonstrated when a patient asked the nurses to help document her end-of-life decisions and wishes. The patient decided not to prolong treatment but to disconnect the mechanical ventilation that was keeping her alive.
Study in journal Computers Informatics Nursing: Communication Needs of Critical Care Patients Who Are Voiceless…