A device invented to help military members hurt in battle may soon help civilians.
First responders to emergencies such as terror attacks, military injuries or car accidents must quickly evaluate victims and determine who gets treatment first. Existing technology forces many medical professionals to base decisions more on intuition than hard evidence. Someone's internal bleeding, for instance, might not be immediately detectable. Other injuries might not be visible.
For these first responders, what to do next can be a life-or-death decision.
But Las Vegas-based Noninvasive Medical Technologies has developed a device no larger than a deck of cards that helps responders determine which patients need help faster than others. It measures, stores and transmits heart rates, respiratory rates and cardiac outputs without cables, wires, electrodes or catheters.
The NCIQ, which stands for noncontact cardiac output, will change everything, said Dr. Matthew Coatsworth, a retired Air Force colonel who helped develop the device.
"This technology will help locate the person who is in the worst condition as well as others whose conditions are deteriorating," he said. "It helps keep track of every aspect of a situation. There's only so much of a medic to go around, and this helps answer some very important questions."
Noninvasive Technologies has created a military version of the NCIQ, called the DOD ETag. The NCIQ is in development and is expected to be submitted for Food and Drug Administration approval later this year. With an OK, the device could make it into the hands of medical care providers, including first responders, hospitals, emergency medical technicians, homeland security agents, law enforcement officers and home health care workers. Company officials don't know yet when the device will go to market.
The company is tweaking the military model and has developed about 30 prototypes in-house, Noninvasive Technologies Vice President of Marketing Jeremy Copeland said.
Copeland said his company will continue to improve its device until it performs as many functions as possible.
"We want it faster, smaller and with more range," Copeland said. "We want a guy in a helicopter to be able to scan patients on the ground and get vitals ... We are continuing to develop the device so in addition to respirations, cardiac output, and heart rate we can use it a biometric identifier like a retinal scan or finger print."
The company moved to Las Vegas from Michigan in 2005, bringing about 30 jobs here, officials said. The company also has received $250,000 in state level tax relief, Copeland said.
He said officials hope to generate "a few million dollars in revenue" from NCIQ next year.
The devices use radio frequencies to measure a patient's condition. They measure cardiac output, blood pumped per minute, and other hemodynamic parameters previously only measurable with catheters. The devices have a companion device to download the data to hospital caregivers, which creates a seamless transfer of care, officials said.
Coatsworth said the idea for the device came up when military professionals started wondering how, if they were wearing chemical-resistant suits, they would be able to provide adequate medical care to people who may not be able to convey injury or distress.
"When a disaster happens all you have are the sources on hand," Coatsworth said. "This is about making sure all the tools are available to folks who are managing that crisis. These are communication tools that help us reallocate resources and expedite help and delivery to where it's needed."
This technology could have come in handy locating victims if it had been available when Hurricane Katrina hit, said Dr. Kevin Ferguson of the Shands at the University of Florida, a private, not-for-profit hospital testing the civilian device.
"One day after Katrina they had trouble telling how many people were still trapped," Ferguson said. "All they would have to do with these is turn them on. They would have known how many people were trapped, where they were and what their medical conditions were."
The technology is so easy to use that an injured person could use the device on himself, Ferguson said. Anyone, be it police officer or passer-by, could activate it, he said.
"It gives situational awareness and seamless information," Ferguson said. "This will change the landscape so much. Imagine being able to see what the paramedics see right after a car accident."
Illustration: Noninvasive Medical Technologies.
Las Vegas Business Press (02/05/08)
Noninvasive Medical Technologies – NCIQ
Noninvasive Medical Technologies - ETag