Wilma (name has been changed) is a 64-year-old woman who suffers from severe Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and severe heart disease, which has resulted in five heart attacks. She would often become septic with the slightest infection. Wilma would become critically ill with little or no warning, often being rushed to the hospital after her family would find her completely unresponsive.
Following one particularly bad infection, she spent four days in the hospital recovering on IV antibiotics. She was finally discharged with a script for oral anti-biotic and was receiving home health services from HealthWatch. Vicki Shirley, RN, acted quickly to put one of HealthWatch's HomMed telemonitors in her home to help keep a closer eye on Wilma's condition. The telemonitor is used to measure a patient's vital signs and send them on to the nurse within minutes.
Within a few days of using the telemonitor, Vicki noticed that Wilma's oxygen levels were falling and that she was becoming hypotensive. Vicki immediately called to check on Wilma and discovered that the reason her vital signs had fallen so quickly was because she was not taking the medication prescribed for her. Wilma could not afford the costly pharmaceutical bill and had not informed Vicki about the situation. Vicki went directly to the doctor's office and gathered samples of the drugs for her. The doctor, concerned with Wilma's status, recommended that she go back to the hospital and stay in intensive care so she could be watched more closely. Wilma refused to go back to the hospital and begged to stay at home. Vicki and the doctor decided that since the HomMed telemonitor would allow Wilma to be monitored everyday, several times per day, they could try to keep her at home and see if her condition improved after she began her medication. This would allow Wilma the comfort of being in her own home, and provide her the attention she needed without having another stay in the hospital with a huge bill to deal with later. She began her medication and both Vicki and Wilma's family used the telemonitoring system to keep a close eye on Wilma's condition. Wilma's family monitored here blood pressure and oxygen levels every 2-3 hours and reported the results to Vicki.
Within 48 hours of beginning the antibiotic, the monitor showed that Wilma's blood pressure and oxygen levels were improving. By Monday, Wilma's vital signs were back to normal and Vicki went to see the doctor to discuss Wilma's status. After reviewing reports compiled by the telemonitor, the doctor was very impressed to see the turn around in her status. The monitor was crucial to discovering that Wilma was septic because other than her decreasing oxygen and blood pressure levels, there were no other symptoms that Vicki could have picked up on such as fever, chilling, or unconsciousness--which are common. The monitor had successfully enabled Vicki to see the initial downturn in Wilma's status and to take immediate action to correct it without another costly hospital stay.
Last updated: 3-4-2008