Thursday, February 19, 2009

Through telemedicine, we have a survivor

As this example from a USA Today article, the right technology used in the right way can help save a life.

It started with classic symptoms - a women with slurred speech and sagging face - on Thanksgiving Day. Problem: She was 200 miles away from a neurologist. Through telemedicine, the doctor looked at the patient, spoke to the patient, went over a brain scan and diagnosed the stroke.

Experiences such as those are why the Mayo Clinic physician and others see telemedicine as one solution to a vexing problem: Few stroke patients are getting emergency treatments that sometimes prevent the most devastating effects of strokes.

One big reason is that far too few do what that Arizona woman did: Get to a hospital immediately. The most widely used treatment is a clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and, under current guidelines, it must be given within three hours of the first symptoms.

And with technology in the right hands, treatment is happening more often in some remote areas. It needs to get into more of those right hands.

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