Respiratory depression leading to death under sedation remains one of the greatest dangers of anesthesia, 170 years since William Thomas Green Morton demonstrated the controlled use of ether to produce insensitivity to pain Massachusetts’s General Hospital in 1846. Anesthesia was immediately welcomed by physicians and patients, but to this day, the use of anesthesia presents risks for patients.
Current technologies to monitor respiration during anesthesia still can be found wanting. Pulse oximetry alone is insufficient to assess oxygen saturation, according to the Joint Commission Sentintent Event Alert. Capnography devices which measure carbon dioxide during anesthesia can often sound false alarms which “may lead to alarm fatigue and a tendency to ignore valid alarms,” states the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. Israeli startup BreathVision’s SafeSed system combines wearables and optics to monitor patient respiration while under sedation in operating rooms, in recovery rooms, and in nursing homes. The wearables consist of EEG-like patches and a belt worn over clothes. A camera tracks infrared signaling emitters on the belt and patches. The SafeSed alarm system analyzes the data sent from the monitoring camera and sounds alarms immediately. According to BreathVision’s CEO Menashe Terem, the system must be at least 99% accurate to avoid causing alarm fatigue.
Lower cost than capnographs is a distinct advantage of SafeSed’s noninvasive system. BreathVision expects to bring SafeSed to market in 2018 for a less than $700 per system, with a $5-$6 per patient cost of disposables. Those costs compare favorably with capnographs, which cost as much as $3,000 and have a $15-$30 disposable cost per patient, according to BreathVision. BreathVision’s first target market is hospital gastroenterology departments where there are multiple procedures daily. A clinical test is currently underway at Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, Israel.