App to save your life

A mobile phone application which guides medics through life-saving treatment for heart attack victims has been launched.

The iResus application for iPhones aims to reduce the risk of human error by prompting clinicians through a checklist of things to do when resuscitating critically ill patients in or near cardiac arrest.  The prompts depend on the age and condition of the patient and a more basic version is also available for first aiders.  It is one of iPhone's most popular medical applications with almost 2,500 people - mainly UK doctors - downloading it in the first week, and more than 1,200 downloads per week since then.

Daniel Low, consultant anaesthetist at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, developed the programme after working alongside air ambulance helicopter pilots who previously worked for the military.  He saw that during in-flight emergencies, airmen would refer to instruction cards known as flight reference charts which guided them through the crisis and helped to reduce the margin for human error.

He said: "Even though doctors and nurses are trained to deal with someone having a cardiac arrest, it's not a situation they will face every day and I thought both medics and patients would benefit from an application such as

Dr Low, who joined the hospital as a registrar in April 2009, took eight months to develop iResus with a business partner, an expert in computer software design, and he is looking at expanding the application for other medical conditions.

"We have already had inquiries from specialists in fields such as stroke, asthma and anaphylaxis and we are keen to work with other professional bodies to see if we can adapt iResus to distribute their guidelines onto the iPhones of their members,'' he added.

It was produced in collaboration with and the Resuscitation Council (UK), which provides the application for free.

Jerry Nolan, also an anaesthetist at the RUH and former chairman of the Resuscitation Council (UK), called it an "invaluable tool'' and added: "Lots of people now have smart phones of one kind or another and to be able to have a device like this, which is constantly updated, accessible within seconds and which automatically replaces old guidelines with new, is fantastic.

"Daniel's work with the Resuscitation Council shows how medicine and patient care is embracing day-to-day technology to maximum effect.''

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