Role of computers in postoperative care

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With the advances in technology and the remarkable achievements of computers in other areas of science and industry, physicians are tempted to utilize computers in medicine and specifically in the intensive care units and other areas where the patient’s status changes quickly and often dramatically and where repetitive measurements of various physiologic functions take place.1 However, we believe that the caliber of patient care in the intensive care unit is not as dependent on fancy monitors and sophisticated computerization as on two other factors: the presence, round-the-clock, of intensivist physicians who know the problems of these patients and who are able to respond quickly and accurately to subtle changes in the status of the patient; and the availability of well-trained, dedicated nurses at a favorable nurse to patient ratio. The spectrum of available hardware is substantial. We attempt to identify the more common uses of computers in the postoperative area.

Desk top minicomputers

These can be used as sophisticated programmable calculators for handling complex calculations, or as decision-making devices through availability of conditional branching capabilities.

Discrete, specific function devices either analog or digital

Examples of such devices are the arrhythmia-detecting devices, computerized electrocardiographic interpretation, cardiac output measurements by integrating area under the systolic portion of the arterial pressure wave form, and small computers used in calculating area under the dye dilution curve or cardiac output by thermodilution techniques.

Sophisticated digital computers programmed to provide the following functions:

Physiological signals. Examples of such functions are integration of variables and parameters to . . .



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