New, talking defibrillator

What will they think of next? Apparently, the answer to that question is a defibrillator machine that barks instructions to physicians. The thinking behind it being that if the doctor is stressed or distracted, the voice will keep her on track and with the task at hand. “It’s like a very good instructor whispering into your ear, telling you what to do,” said Dr. Kenneth Morallee, vice president of strategic development for Laerdal, the Norwegian co-developer of the new device. “If you do it well, it shuts up.”

The machine will help physicians deliver better, more consistent compression on patients’ chests, which according to Dr. Petter Steen, professor in the surgical division at Ulleval University Hospital in Oslo is “the most important factor for survival” in patients with cardiac arrest. “They do half the compressions they need to do and they’re not pressing hard enough,” said Steen, referring to paramedics who don’t use Q-CPR. “But with the device, we’re up to twice the heart compressions that we had before.”

This new technology sounds like it could help even the most harried emergency room doctor.