New Technology Speeds Diagnoses for First Responders

Oftentimes, medicine's ability to deliver an accurate diagnosis quickly can mean the difference between life and death. Nowhere is that more true than at the scene of a fire where first-responders need to know immediately if a conscious patient is a victim of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

Normally, these type of tests are taken with an arterial blood sample (typically an artery in the arm), and are then sent off to a central lab, where a bench top unit uses spectroscopy and electrochemical sensor measurements to provide results.  It can take hours to get the results.

But what if a lab in a hospital is not an option and time may be ticking for first responders at a scene of a possible CO poisoning?

Toronto-based ChroMedx, a medical technology company focused on the development of novel medical devices for in vitro diagnostics and point-of-care testing is working to address this. Their flagship device, the HemoPalm utilizes a small sample of blood via the finger, providing a result on the spot, with no specialist required. Central to the HemoPalm, is its ability to fully integrate CO-oximetry, measured through spectroscopy (the only method for CO-oximetry) which allows the user to measure total hemoglobin (Hb), Oxy-Hb, Deoxy-Hb, Met-Hb and carboxy-Hb, simultaneously with blood gases and electrolytes measured with electrochemical sensors.

The technology is especially beneficial to first responders, who can take the blood sample right at the scene and have the data available upon arrival to the hospital before the patient even arrives into the ER. The information can also be transmitted back to the hospital before the patient is wheeled into the ER triage.

In a hospital setting, the HemoPalm could simplifying sample collection and expediting patient results, both in the emergency department and the operating room, where the device could replace multiple machines currently in use. Another use would be for respiratory care, allowing respiratory therapists and visiting nurses to optimize treatment in the hospital and at home with comprehensive results of oxygen in the blood.

A second cartridge, the HemoPalm B, is being developed to measure bilirubin which is used to monitor liver function.  Bilirubin in high levels is an indication of jaundice, a potentially dangerous condition for newborns of which approximately 15 percent will develop this condition.  The heel-prick method of sampling, as provided by the HemoPalm system, makes sample collection easy with minimal trauma to the baby and minimal blood loss. Once diagnosed, treatment is relatively straightforward, and pre-discharge testing could predict virtually all cases of jaundice and ensure proper parental response and care.

Other cartridges planned for development include testing for lactate, which is an indication of sepsis, a common and deadly condition in the Emergency Department; creatinine, a measure of kidney function; and beta-hydroxybutyrate, elevated in diabetic emergencies.

Wayne Maddever, ChroMedx’s CEO said he expects to see HemoPalm in studies for FDA approvals within a year.