One of my favorite things to do at the Fogarty Institute is visit the Fog Shop, where our medtech startups brainstorm innovative solutions to solve some of the most critical health problems. Not only are these entrepreneurs a great source of inspiration, but they bring to my attention many of the health needs that still need to be addressed, and, unfortunately, often go unnoticed.
During a recent chat with Peter David, CEO of MedicalCue, one of our startups developing technology that guides medical teams during newborn resuscitation, I was reminded of some statistics that are truly disturbing: One in 10 babies globally needs to be resuscitated at birth – that’s roughly 420,000 babies here in the United States alone. There is one “Golden Minute” of opportunity for a baby to start breathing properly according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, or the infant is at risk of brain damage, or worse, loss of life. Babies need to be promptly and correctly resuscitated, but unfortunately errors are all too common, depriving infants of a chance at a great life.
We can do much better.
Neonatal Resuscitation Needs To Be A Priority
“Formula One is the pinnacle of motor sport, and that’s partly because the teams are always trying to cut down on the time it takes to do specific tasks during a race, alongside innovating with technology to make the cars go ever faster on less fuel.” (Geek.com)
While babies don’t need to go faster on less fuel, they do need all their brain power to achieve maximum potential. We need to increase awareness, improve processes and make neonatal resuscitation a priority for hospitals. If a baby is not breathing after birth, EVERY second counts.
Currently, resuscitation experts and tools can be minutes away from the newborn and his or her mom. Formula One support teams aim to change four tires in two seconds in the pit stop, and they are getting very close. So why does it take hospital staff 150 seconds to reach an unresponsive baby? They should be within four steps.
Hospitals Need to Leverage Technology
Currently, hospital staff relies on a 317-page instruction manual to resuscitate a baby. Imagine remembering the steps, let alone looking through 317 pages of text, under extremely stressful circumstances. Errors are bound to occur, and they do, about 50 to 55 percent of the time. MedicalCue is working towards streamlining the resuscitation process and has done so with great success, raising accuracy to 95 percent. And that is just one technology – certainly other new and different medical devices can tackle additional issues we have not thought of yet.
As a society, we are needlessly losing a lot of talent. We have made so much progress on pregnancy nutrition, research to stimulate babies’ brains, and offering the best tools to educate our children, but little has been done to address those first few seconds of life, which perhaps are the most crucial in a human’s life. This needs to change.