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Hospitals' need for gas supply monitoring

Posted November 3rd 2010

I can’t help thinking about those TV medical drama series when they show the head surgeon and all his entourage, in full garb with face mask, working on a patient, and–depending on your taste in sitcoms–you either hear loud blaring music in the background (Nip Tuck) or the doctors trading jokes and jabbing at one another (Grey’s Anatomy).

In real life, when those doctors and all his helpers operate, they talk, they walk around the room, they stop, they analyze x-rays, charts, computer screen…  All this activity inevitably leads to twists and pulls on the pipes connecting gas from the ceiling to the tools they use during the operation.

These medical gases are usually contained in cylinders and located in the basement or a few floors away from the surgery rooms and are pumped through a pipe system in the ceiling to support the surgery tools.  The twisting and pulls from the medical team sometimes results in leaks and they run out of gas much faster than expected.

One hospital I met with recently has over 1,000 gas cylinders all over campus.  They have a full-time person walking around checking on them 5 days a week during the day shift.  This person makes it his priority to check on all the medical gases that support the surgery rooms.  But they still run out of gas when they have unexpected problems like I mentioned above.

I talked to them about our non-invasive Wireless Gauge Reader (WGR) that can be clamped on to the pressure gauge on the manifold of the gas cylinder in the storage room.  It’s wireless and non-invasive so there is no need to shut down any machine or rip out wall to add wiring, which would cause unacceptable delays impacting the surgery schedule.

The WGR avoids any delay since it can be mounted in about 20 minutes.  It takes an optical reading of the gauge on the gas cylinder and sends it to a gateway.  The gateway is connected to the hospital’s network and sends alarms to hospital employees via email or SMS.  From their cell phones the employees can send a query to the gateway to ask for the last few hours worth of data to determine if they have a fast leak and must act right away, or a slow leak so they can at least finish dinner before heading back to the hospital.

Bien Irace