PhysOrg.com posted a piece on a new type of radio node which monitors the temperature of blood bags that were unused during an operation, to ensure the cold chain was not broken.
The main theory behind these nodes is to monitor the blood bag and track its history without interfering with other sensitive electrical equipment that is usually found in a hospital. The transmit power required by these radio nodes is in the range of milliwatts, whereas RFID’s typically average two watts. The radio node is a constantly active, battery-powered device that has its own processing unit, which enables it to gather information and react to actions.
The radio nodes should help to improve safety and enhance patient care, because using the wrong blood, or blood that has broken the cold chain, during a transfusion could have fatal consequences for the patient. Radio nodes attached to the blood bags can also exchange information with a patient’s wristband to alert caregivers if the blood in the bag does not match the patient’s.
Radio nodes also look to optimize the management of medical devices within hospitals and possibly replace RFIDs altogether. Devices such as syringe pumps and cardiac monitors can be hard to track down when needed, as they they are frequently moving to different departments. Using radio nodes enables these devices to report their position automatically, allowing hospitals to get by with fewer devices and eliminate unnecessary time-wasting and cut costs.
The intelligent radio nodes were developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS and the Fraunhofer Working Group SCS in collaboration with their partners T-Systems, Vierling, delta T and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. The project is funded by the German federal ministry of economics and technology (BMWi).
A six-month test phase is set to begin at Erlangen University Hospital in January 2010, and the Opal Health system could be ready for use in around two years.
To read the article in its entirety please visit PhysOrg.com.