Guidry News Service recently visited with University of Texas Medical Branch Professor George Kramer, principal investigator on a project that he calls “an automated critical care system” and which was described in a UTMB news release as a “trauma center in a backpack.” Listen (21:46)
“Well, I’m a cardiovascular physiologist, a PhD,“ Dr. Kramer said. “I actually got my degree at UTMB studying microcirculation in burn injury. I did my work in the old Shriners Burns Hospital.”
He said he served in the Vietnam War and developed an interest in treating combat injuries, which continued in his civilian life.
“My first grant was from the Army to study a hypertonic solution, which actually was our first success, in a way; in that we had this unique solution which greatly reduced the volume requirements that soldiers, medics, had to carry to treat wounded soldiers,” he said.
The research evolved into determining the best way to deliver fluids to patients in goal-directed therapy.
“Give fluid until you hit a certain blood pressure, a certain target,” he said. “We started doing that kind of work and we started letting computers do it. We felt that if you have a pump and you have a target, a computer can do that automatically.”
He said he began working with medical grade engineers to build a clinical system for use in treating combat victims in the Gulf War.
“We built something called the Trauma Tablet that connected with the patient and automatically measured blood pressure and controlled fluid pumps,” he said.
He said the experience on combat patients led to clinical studies of burn patients, which led to development of a product that is in use now.
“The Burn Navigator is being used to help guide fluid therapy,” Dr. Kramer said. “This was actually specifically built for the Army to deploy in hospitals around the world where they don’t have burn expertise.”
He said that Arcos Inc. a private company that will market the product, and others are working on regulatory issues with the Federal Drug Administration. In addition, Dr. William Mileski, chief of trauma services at UTMB, is heading an expert panel of trauma surgeons who have had military experience, to develop the algorithms for the computer program.
Kramer said the automated critical care system that is now being developed will help save lives in the field.
“This is cruise control,” he said. “We’re not replacing the doctors. The doctors are there - just like we don’t replace the driver of the car when we have cruise control or autopilot.”
He said the automated system allows caregivers to focus on other crucial tasks in treating the critically injured.
Video highlighting the technology Dr. Kramer is developing Click Here (4:46)
For the official UTMB news release on this research Click Here