Advanced Patient Monitoring Displays: Tools for Continuous Informing

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Abstract

We reviewed the use of advanced display technologies for monitoring in anesthesia. Researchers are investigating displays that integrate information and that, in some cases, also deliver the results continuously to the anesthesiologist. Integrated visual displays reveal higher-order properties of patient state and speed in responding to events, but their benefits under an intensely timeshared load is unknown. Head-mounted displays seem to shorten the time to respond to changes, but their impact on peripheral awareness and attention is unknown. Continuous auditory displays extending pulse oximetry seem to shorten response times and improve the ability to timeshare other tasks, but their integration into the already noisy operative environment still needs to be tested. We reviewed the advantages and disadvantages of the three approaches, drawing on findings from other fields, such as aviation, to suggest outcomes where there are still no results for the anesthesia context. Proving that advanced patient monitoring displays improve patient outcomes is difficult, and a more realistic goal is probably to prove that such displays lead to better situational awareness, earlier responding, and less workload, all of which keep anesthesia practice away from the outer boundaries of safe operation.

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