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Reaching for the smartphone in the ICU

A nice reminder today of the various ways in which smartphones can benefit physicians in their practice. On iMedicalApps, Iltifat Husain, MD, describes what happened while working in the intensive care unit recently:

I was taking care of an adolescent who was still on a ventilator and was having difficulty passing their SBT (spontaneous breathing trial).  It was understandably a terrifying experience for the patient as they were still able to communicate and understand their overall disposition — the patient had plenty of family and nursing staff talking them through this.  Heavily sedating the patient would only hurt their chances of passing the SBT, so we needed them to be as calm as possible without too much sedation.

The staff and family had given the patient a notepad so they could communicate, but the adolescent was getting agitated they could not verbalize themselves due to the breathing tube being in place.  Unfortunately, the patient had pathology preventing them from adequately being able to write on a notepad — their words appeared as scribble.

When I came on for my overnight shift, I handed the patient my iPhone.

Husain goes on to describe how the patient instantly began typing away on the phone. "We sometimes forget adolescents are more used to tapping on a glass screen then writing on a notepad," he writes, before nothing that the patient "wasn’t as agitated knowing they could communicate, and shortly [after] they passed their SBT and their breathing tube came out."

Previously: A conversation about smart-device use among resident physicians and Study finds more doctors are using smartphones

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