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Army Offers Tablet Software to Save Burn Patients

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The Army is outfitting soldiers with a software program that can be loaded onto a tablet to help save burn patients.

“When you’ve got a burn patient, the most critical time is immediately and the most critical thing is don’t give them too much fluids,” Patrick Brennan said as he picked up a gray, metal tablet by its handle.

Brennan is no doctor, nurse or emergency medical tech, but a business development manager for Panasonic, the maker of the “Toughbook” tablet chosen to house a software program for treating burn patients in hospital or in the combat theater.

The company was featured the Toughbook H2 this week during the three-day Association of the U.S. Army conference in Washington DC. The ruggedized tablet already is widely used in the Army, though “The Burn Navigator,” software developed by Arcos Inc. of Texas is giving the device a new mission.

Brennan said the software takes the guessing out of deciding how much fluid a burn patient needs, keeping them from becoming over hydrated as well as dehydrated.

The Burn Navigator is currently in use at the Army Burn Center at Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. Its use led to a 34 percent relative decrease in the patient mortality rate, according to Arcos. The program was cleared for use by the FDA in May and the Army has since approved it for use in theater.

Arcos co-founder and chief executive officer Chris Meador notes on the company’s website that the Army helped to design the system. Service health officials wanted a mobile burn support device to help care for casualties in the critical first hours after being injured and while being evacuated from the field. The company is also working on another software program that would use a Toughbook 2 to control an infusion pump that administers blood and fluids to patients.

According to Brennan, a medic or other first responder using the tablet with The Burn Navigator software would connect the patient to the device so the software could begin monitoring the patient’s response to the fluid’s he’s receiving. The algorithm uses fluid in/fluid out data to predict the fluid rate for the next hour that will best achieve the urine output target range for the patient. This optimizes the delivery of fluids while minimizing possible complications that can come with too much or too little fluid after the injury.

“It used to be a guesswork kind of thing, but with this application that Arcos has worked on … they have a sensor package that will measure the intake of fluid, the outtake of fluid and how much they need,” he said.

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