Computer program now helping track patients as they undergo surgery

News / Patient Care
By Peter Jeffrey

Kingston General Hospital has just flipped the switch on two new pieces of software for our Surgical, Perioperative and Anesthesia (SPA) program that will improve the flow of information. Both of the applications are part of the PICIS OR Manager software KGH launched a year ago to carry out Operating Room (OR) scheduling. Now the system is being put to work in two new ways.

First, it allows nurses in the operating rooms to document everything happening inside the suite electronically, rather than on paper. Secondly, the software helps staff, physicians, and soon family members, keep track of where each patient is in real time on a series of flat screen TVs. A total of eight screens are in place in key areas of the OR, Same Day Admission Centre (SDAC) and the Post-Anesthetic Care Unit (PACU).

"Each screen provides a snapshot of all operating room patients from the time they are admitted to the SDAC to the time they depart the PACU unit," says Laurie Thomas, Program Manager of the OR, PACU and SDAC. "All staff, which includes nursing, anesthesia, surgeons and support staff, as well as the patients and families, will be able to see the same information at the same time."

For patients and families, the next screen to be turned on will be in the SDAC waiting room. To make use of it, each family will be given a small card that will have an ID number for their loved one on it. The card will also have information on the screen's colour codes so they will be able to see at a glance where their family member is in the surgery process. The screen will also show who their surgeon is.

"Family members are always anxious and want to be kept up to date and this tool will help ease their minds and keep them informed," says Ashley Manlow, PICIS coordinator in the OR and Registered Nurse.

A key part of the success of the project so far has been the involvement of the nurses and other staff who will be using the system.

"We held many Nursing engagement sessions early on to get input on how the system should work," says Dino Loricchio, Manager of the Project Management Office. "They were able to give us a lot of input and advice on important details we hadn't thought of, such as the placement of computer terminals, the desk space provided, lighting and other computer issues. Together we made many modifications along the way."