US 20050112325 A1
A care system and associated methods are provided for alleviating patient pain, anxiety and discomfort associated with medical or surgical procedures, the system comprising: at least one patient health monitor device coupled to a patient and generating a signal reflecting at least one physiological condition of the patient; a drug delivery controller supplying one or more drugs to the patient; a memory device storing a safety data set reflecting parameters of the at least one patient physiological condition; and an electronic controller interconnected between the patient health monitor, the drug delivery controller and the safety data set; wherein said electronic controller manages the application of the drugs in accord with the safety data set. In another aspect of the invention, the care system facilitates a procedural physician's safely and efficaciously providing conscious sedation to a patient by additionally providing a consciousness monitoring-system which monitors the consciousness of the patient and generates a value representing the level of patient consciousness. Methods for alleviating patient pain and anxiety in accordance with the invention comprise connecting a drug delivery device to a patient, such device having a drug delivery controller supplying one or more drugs and being coupled to an electronic controller; attaching at least one patient health monitor device to the patient; accessing a memory device which stores a safety data set reflecting parameters of at least one patient physiological condition; and delivering the drugs to the patient in accord with the safety data set. In further aspects of the invention, the consciousness monitoring system is an automated consciousness monitoring system which includes patient query and response devices. Additional embodiments of the system and methods are directed to alleviating patient pain or discomfort while enabling safe patient controlled drug delivery in correlation with the monitoring of patient health conditions.
97. A drug mixture suitable for use by a non-anesthetist medical person during the performance of a medical and/or surgical procedure for delivery to a patient via a delivery apparatus to provide effective sedation and pain management without general anesthesia to a non-intubated patient in need thereof, wherein said apparatus comprises a drug delivery device for delivering a dosage rate of said drug mixture to said patient during said procedure, at least one sensor coupled to said patient for providing feedback data of the ventilatory function of the lungs of the patient during said medical procedure, and a processor connected to said sensor and adapted to electronically receive said feedback data and to generate a signal reflecting the ventilatory status of the patient, said signal indicating possible modifications of said drug delivery to maintain proper ventilatory functions during said medical procedure, said drug mixture comprising:
an analgesic drug to provide pain relief for the non-intubated patient in need thereof during said procedure; and
a sedative drug to provide sedation for the non-intubated patient in need thereof during said procedure.
98. The drug mixture according to
99. The drug mixture according to
100. The drug mixture according to
101. The drug mixture according to
102. The drug mixture according to
103. A drug mixture suitable for use by a non-anesthetist medical person during the performance of a medical and/or surgical procedure, said mixture providing effective sedation and pain management without general anesthesia to a non-intubated patient in need thereof, said mixture comprising:
an effective quantity of remifentanil to provide pain relief for the non-intubated patient in need thereof during said procedure; and
an effective quantity of propofol to provide sedation for the non-intubated patient in need therof during said procedure;
said drug mixture being combined prior to infusion into said patient and suitable for delivery to said patient to provide effective pain relief and sedation without placing the patient in a state of general anesthesia.
104. A drug mixture for use by a non-anesthetist personnel for performing a medical and/or surgical procedure on a spontaneously-ventilating patient in need of sedation and pain control during the procedure, said mixture comprising
a proportion of an analgesic sufficient to provide effective pain relief to the spontaneously ventilating patient during said procedure;
a proportion of a sedative sufficient to provide effective sedation to the spontaneously ventilating patient during said procedure;
said sedative and said analgesic mixture being ready for infusion by an electronically controlled infusion pump during said procedure.
105. The drug mixture according to
106. The drug mixture according to
107. The drug mixture according to
108. The drug mixture according to
109. The drug mixture according to
110. A drug mixture for use during a medical and/or surgical procedure, said mixture comprising
a quantity of remifentenal sufficient to provide effective pain relief to a patient the during said procedure;
a quantity of propofol sufficient to provide effective sedation to a patient during said procedure;
said propofol and said remifentenal being mixed for infusion by an electronically controlled infusion pump during said procedure.
This application claims priority from. U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/087,84.1 filed Jun. 3, 1998.
This invention relates generally to an apparatus and method for relieving patient pain and/or anxiety. More particularly, this invention relates to a system and method for providing sedation, analgesia and/or amnesia to a conscious patient undergoing a painful or anxiety-producing medical or surgical procedure, or suffering from post-procedural or other pain or discomfort. The invention electronically integrates through conservative software management the delivery of one or more sedative, analgesic or amnestic drugs with the electronic monitoring of one or more patient physiological conditions. In one form, the invention includes the use of one or more sets of stored data-defining parameters reflecting patient and system states, the parameters being accessed through software to conservatively manage and correlate drug delivery to safe, cost effective, optimized values related to the conscious patient's vital signs and other physiological conditions.
This invention is directed to providing a conscious patient who is undergoing a painful, uncomfortable or otherwise frightening (anxiety-inspiring) medical or surgical procedure, or who is suffering from post-procedural or other pain or discomfort, with safe, effective and cost-effective relief from such pain and/or anxiety. Focuses of the invention include, but are not limited to, enabling the provision of sedation (inducement of a state of calm), analgesia (insensitivity to pain) and/or amnesia to a conscious patient (sometimes referred to collectively as “conscious sedation”) by a nonanesthetist practitioner, i.e., a physician or other clinician who is not an anesthesiologist (M.D.A.) or certified nurse anesthetist (C.R.N.A.), in a manner that is safe, effective and cost-effective; the provision of same to patients in ambulatory settings such as hospital laboratories, ambulatory surgical centers, and physician's offices; and the provision of patient post-operative or other pain relief in remote medical care locations or in home care environments. To those ends, the invention mechanically integrates through physical proximity and incorporation into an overall structural system and electronically integrates through conservative, decision-making software management, the delivery of one or more sedative, analgesic or amnestic drugs to the patient with the electronic monitoring of one or more patient physiological conditions.
In traditional operating rooms, anesthesiologists provide patients relief from pain, fear and physiological stress by providing general anesthesia. “Anesthesia” is typically used (and is so used herein) interchangeably with the state of “unconsciousness.” Over a billion painful and anxiety-inspiring medical and surgical procedures, however, are performed worldwide each year without anesthesia. Thus, outside the practice of anesthesiology there are currently a large number of patients who, while conscious, undergo medical or surgical procedures that produce considerable pain, profound anxiety, and/or physiological stress. Such medical or surgical procedures are often performed by procedural physicians (nonanesthetists) in hospital laboratories, in physicians' offices, and in ambulatory surgical centers. For example, physician specialists perform painful procedures on conscious patients such as pacemaker placement, colonoscopies, various radiological procedures, microlaparoscopy, fracture reduction, wound dressing changes in burn units, and central and arterial catheter insertion in pediatric patients, in hospital laboratory settings. Primary care physicians perform such procedures as flexible sigmoidoscopies, laceration repairs, bone marrow biopsies and other procedures in physicians' offices. Many surgical specialists perform painful procedures such as anterior segment repairs by ophthalmologists, plastic procedures by cosmetic surgeons, foreign body removal, transurethral procedures, incisions of neck and axilla nodes, and breast biopsies in their offices or in ambulatory surgical centers. The needs of patients for safe and effective pain and anxiety relief during and after such procedures are currently unmet.
Conscious sedation techniques currently available for use by procedural physicians (nonanesthetists) during medical or surgical procedures such as those described above include sedatives and opioids given orally, rectally or intra-muscularly; sedatives and analgesics administered intravenously; and local anesthetics. Often, however, such techniques are less than satisfactory.
In the case of oral, rectal or intra-muscular administration of sedatives and opioids by procedural physicians during the provision of conscious sedation, there are currently no effective means available to assure that the effects of those drugs can be readily controlled to meet patient need. This is due in part to the variable interval between administration and the onset and dissipation of drug effect. Unreliable sedation and analgesia can result because of mismatches between the dosage administered and the patient's needs which can vary depending on the condition of the patient and the type of procedure performed. Such administration of sedation can also produce an unconscious patient at risk for developing airway obstruction, emesis with pulmonary aspiration or cardiovascular instability. To attempt to avoid these complications, procedural physicians often administer sedatives and analgesics sparingly. This may reduce the risk of major complications, but may also mean that few patients receive adequate relief from pain and/or anxiety during medical and surgical procedures outside the practice of anesthesiology.
The use of intravenous administration of sedatives and analgesics to conscious patients by procedural physicians in settings such as hospital laboratories, physicians' offices and other ambulatory settings is also less than satisfactory. With respect to intravenous bolus administration, plasma concentrations vary considerably when drugs are injected directly into the blood stream. This can result in initially excessive (potentially toxic) levels followed by sub-therapeutic concentrations. Although intravenously administered drugs can be titrated to the patient's need, doing so safely and effectively usually requires the full-time attention of a trained care giver, e.g., an anesthesiologist. Costs and scheduling difficulties among other things typically preclude this option.
Due to the difficulties described above involving administration of sedatives and opioids, many procedural physicians rely on local anesthetics for pain relief. However, local anesthetics alone usually provide inadequate analgesia (insensitivity to pain) for most medical and surgical procedures and the injections themselves are often relatively painful.
In short, current methods commonly available to procedural physicians for providing effective pain relief to conscious patients outside the practice of anesthesiology typically fall short of the objective. Moreover, there are currently no clear standards of practice for nonanesthetists to guide the relief of pain and anxiety for conscious patients. There is not adequate training for such practitioners in the diagnosis and treatment of complications that may arise or result from the provision of sedation and analgesia to conscious patients. Procedures or mechanisms for ongoing quality management of the care of conscious patients undergoing painful and anxiety-inspiring medical or surgical procedures and the devices and methods employed in that care are inadequate.
An additional focus of this invention is the electronic monitoring of a conscious patient's physiological condition during drug delivery, and the electronic management of drug delivery by conservative decision-making software that integrates and correlates drug delivery with electronic feedback values representing the patient's physiological condition, thereby ensuring safe, cost-effective, optimized care. Significantly, in many cases involving conscious sedation, the patient's physiological condition is inadequately monitored or not electronically monitored at all during drug delivery and recovery therefrom. That is, there is often no electronic monitoring of basic patient vital signs such as blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation (oximetry) nor of carbon dioxide levels in a patient's inhaled and exhaled gases (capnometry). For example, patients undergoing painful procedures in dentists' offices may receive nitrous oxide (N2O) gas to relieve pain, but that drug delivery is often hot accompanied by-electronic monitoring of a patient's physiological condition, and currently there are no devices available to nonanesthetists which safely and effectively integrate electronic patient monitoring with such drug delivery mechanisms.
In other circumstances involving the provision of conscious sedation and analgesia by the procedural physician, such as a cardiologist's performing a catheterization procedure in a hospital laboratory, electronic patient monitors are sometimes used, but again, there are no devices currently available to the nonanesthetist which safely and effectively integrate both mechanically (through close, physical proximity and incorporation into a structural system), and electronically (through conservative software management), electronic patient monitors with mechanisms for drug delivery.
One aspect of the invention of this application is directed to the simplification of drug delivery machines for relieving patient pain and anxiety by eliminating features of those machines that complicate the provision of patient pain and anxiety relief, and by including those features that enable nonanesthetists to provide safe, cost-effective, optimized conscious sedation and analgesia. More specifically, current anesthesia machines used by anesthesiologists to provide general anesthesia and a form of conscious sedation administered by the anesthesiologist known as “monitored anesthesia care” (MAC) include various complex features such as oxygen (O2) flush valves which are capable of providing large amounts of oxygen to the patient at excessive pressures, and carbon dioxide (CO2) absorbent material which absorbs CO2 from a patient's exhaled gases. In addition, anesthesia machines typically deliver halogenated anesthetic gases which can trigger malignant hyperthermia. Malignant hyperthermia is a rare, but highly critical condition requiring the advanced training and skills of an anesthesiologist for rapid diagnosis and therapy. The airway circuit in current anesthesia machines is circular in nature and self-contained in that the patient inhales an oxygen/anesthetic gas mixture, exhales that mixture which is then passed through CO2 absorbent material, re-inhales the filtered gas mixture (supplemented by additional anesthetic and oxygen), and repeats the process.
These aspects of anesthesia machines, among others, carry attendant risks for the patient such that anesthesia machines require operation by a professional trained through a multi-year apprenticeship (e.g., an anesthesiologist or C.R.N.A.) in detecting and correcting failure modes in the technology. For example, an oxygen flush valve can cause oxygen to enter a patient's stomach thereby causing vomiting; and carbon dioxide absorbent material can fail in which case the patient could receive too much carbon dioxide if the failure was not promptly detected and corrected. Moreover, the use of the self-contained, circular airway circuit could result in a circumstance whereby if the supply Of O2 suddenly ceased, a patient would only be breathing the finite supply of oxygen with no provision for administration of additional requirements for O2 or atmospheric air. Such features, among others, make anesthesia machines unusable by nonanesthetists. Therefore, a focal point of this aspect of the invention is the simplification of a drug delivery apparatus by selecting and incorporating the appropriate features to facilitate the rendition of safe and effective conscious sedation by nonanesthetists.
Certain aspects of this invention also focus on ensuring maintenance of patient consciousness to prevent airway difficulties, including monitoring the level of patient consciousness during the delivery of one or more sedative, analgesic and/or amnestic drugs to a conscious, non-intubated, spontaneously-ventilating patient to prevent airway difficulties. For patients not intubated on a ventilator, monitoring the level of patient consciousness is important to provide information about the likelihood of depressed airway reflexes and respiratory drive to breathe, the ability to maintain a patent airway, and the likelihood of cardiovascular instability. Despite the importance of monitoring and maintaining adequate levels of consciousness in certain medical settings, there is no currently available device for ensuring maintenance of patient consciousness by integrating mechanically and electronically such monitoring of a patient's level of consciousness with a drug delivery system. The invention of this application is directed to this unmet need, as well.
This invention is also directed to providing conscious patients relief from pain and/or anxiety in a manner that is cost-effective and time efficient. Current solutions for relieving patient pain and anxiety by drug delivery and electronic monitoring of a patient's physiological condition are expensive and require a great deal of time to set-up and take down. Also, the current requirement or desire for the presence of an anesthesiologist during some medical or surgical procedures increases costs, especially if that desire requires in-patient care as opposed to care in an ambulatory setting. To the extent medical procedures are performed on conscious patients without adequate sedation and analgesia due to the current unavailability of appropriate methods and devices for providing such care (e.g., wound dressing changes in burn wards), such procedures may need to be conducted on numerous occasions, but over short periods of time (due to a patient's inability to tolerate the level of pain), as opposed to conducting a fewer number of more definitive procedures. The requirement of multiple sessions of care also typically involves increased costs. This invention addresses such cost-effectiveness concerns and provides solutions to problems such as those described.
The invention is further directed to the provision of relief from post-operative or other post-procedural pain and discomfort in remote medical care locations and home care type settings. Current devices may permit certain patients in, for example, a home care type setting, to provide themselves with an increased dosage of analgesic through the use of a patient-controlled drug delivery device, e.g., a device that permits a patient to press a button or toggle a switch and receive more analgesic (often intravenously or transdermally). This practice is sometimes called “PCA” or patient-controlled analgesia. Known commercially available PCA-type devices do not electronically integrate and conservatively manage delivery of analgesics in accord with the electronic monitoring of a patient's physiological condition. This invention focuses on this unmet need, as well.
An additional aspect of this invention is directed to the integration of a billing/information system for use with an apparatus providing sedation, analgesia and/or amnesia to conscious patients in physician's offices, hospital laboratory or other ambulatory settings or remote medical care locations. Current techniques for automated billing and invoice generating provide inadequate and inefficient methods for tracking recurring revenues derived from repeated use of medical devices such as the apparatus of this invention.
Other focuses of the invention are apparent from the below detailed description of preferred embodiments.
Known machines or methods administered by the nonanesthetist for providing conscious, non-intubated, spontaneously-ventilating patients with sedation and analgesia are unreliable, not cost-effective or are otherwise unsatisfactory. No commercially available devices reliably provide such patients with safe and cost-effective sedation, analgesia and amnesia to conscious patients by integrating and correlating the delivery of sedative, analgesic and/or amnestic drugs with electronic monitoring of a patient's physiological condition. Available drug delivery systems do not incorporate a safety set of defined data parameters so as to permit drug delivery to be conservatively managed electronically in correlation with the patient's physiological conditions, including vital signs, to effectuate safe, cost-effective and optimized drug delivery to a patient. Available drug delivery systems do not incorporate alarm alerts that safely and reliably free the nonanesthetist practitioner from continued concern of drug delivery effects and dangers to permit the nonanesthetist to focus on the intended medical examination and procedure. Moreover, there are no known patient-controlled analgesia devices that mechanically and electronically integrate and correlate (through conservative software management) patient requests for adjustments to drug dosage and electronic monitoring of patient physiological conditions.
Known techniques have focused on the delivery of sedation and analgesia to conscious patients with inadequate or no electronic monitoring of patient physiological conditions, including vital signs, and no electronic integration or correlation of such patient monitoring with drug delivery. Other techniques have focused on the provision of anesthesia to unconscious patients with the requirement of an anesthesiologist to operate a complicated, failure-intensive anesthesia machine.
Presently known nitrous oxide delivery systems such as those manufactured by Matrx Medical, Inc., Accutron, Inc., and others are used primarily in dental offices for providing conscious sedation only. Such devices contain sources of nitrous oxide and oxygen, a gas mixing device and system monitors, but no mechanical or electrical integration of patient physiological condition monitors with drug delivery mechanisms. Similarly, other known drug delivery systems (e.g., intravenous infusion or intramuscular delivery mechanisms) for providing sedatives and analgesics to conscious patients used, for example, in hospital laboratories, do not include mechanical or electronic integration of patient physiological condition monitors with drug delivery mechanisms.
Anesthesia machines used by anesthesiologists to provide general anesthesia or MAC, such as, by way of example, the NARKOMED line of machines manufactured by North American Drager and EXCEL SE ANESTHESIA SYSTEMS manufactured by Ohmeda Inc., mechanically integrate electronic patient monitors in physical proximity to drug delivery mechanisms. These machines, however, employ features such as O2 flush valves, malignant hyperthermia triggering agents, CO2 absorbent material, as well as circular airway circuits, among others, thereby requiring operation by an M.D.A. (or C.R.N.A.) to avoid the occurrence of life-threatening incidents. These devices do not provide for the electronic integration or management of drug delivery in correlation with the monitoring of a patient's physiological condition, much less such electronic management through conservative, decision-making software or logic incorporating established safe data-defining parameters.
U.S. Pat. No. 2,888,922 (Bellville) discloses a servo-controlled drug delivery device for automatic and continuous maintenance of the level of unconsciousness in a patient based on voltages representative of the patient's cortical activity obtained by means of an electroencephalograph (EEG). The device continuously and automatically increases or decreases in robotic fashion the flow of anesthetic gas (or I.V. infusion) in response to selected frequencies of brain potential to maintain a constant level of unconsciousness.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,681,121 (Kobal) discloses a device for measuring a patient's sensitivity to pain during the provision of anesthesia, by applying a continuous, painful stimulus to the nasal mucosa and regulating the level of anesthesia in response to EEG signals indicating the patient's response to the nasal pain stimulus, with the goal of maintaining a sufficient level of unconsciousness.
Among other things, none of the above-described known devices manages drug delivery to conscious patients employing conservative decision-making software or logic which correlates the drug delivery to electronic patient feedback signals and an established set of safety data parameters.
The invention provides apparatuses and methods to safely and effectively deliver a sedative, analgesic, amnestic or other pharmaceutical agent (drug) to a conscious, non-intubated, spontaneously-ventilating patient. The invention is directed to apparatuses and methods for alleviating a patient's pain and anxiety before and/or during a medical or surgical procedure and for alleviating a patient's post-operative or other post-procedural pain or discomfort while simultaneously enabling a physician to safely control or manage such pain and/or anxiety. The costs and time loss often associated with traditional operating room settings or other requirements or desires for the presence of anesthetists may thus be avoided.
A care system in accordance with the invention includes at least one patient health monitor which monitors a patient's physiological condition integrated with a drug delivery controller supplying an analgesic or other drug to the patient. A programmable, microprocessor-based electronic controller compares the electronic feedback signals generated from the patient health monitor and representing the patient's actual physiological condition with a stored safety data set reflecting safe and undesirable parameters of at least one patient physiological condition and manages the application or delivery of the drug to the patient in accord with that comparison. In a preferred embodiment, the management of drug delivery is effected by the electronic controller via conservative, decision-making software accessing the stored safety data set.
In another aspect the invention also includes at least one system state monitor which monitors at least one operating condition of the care system, the system state monitor being integrated with a drug delivery controller supplying drugs to the patient. In this aspect, an electronic controller receives instruction signals generated from the system monitor and conservatively controls (i.e., curtails or ceases) drug delivery in response thereto. In a preferred embodiment, this is accomplished through software control of the electronic controller whereby the software accesses a stored data set reflecting safe and undesirable parameters of at least one operating condition of the care system, effects a comparison of the signal generated by the system state monitor with the stored data set of parameters and controls drug delivery in accord with same, curtailing or ceasing drug delivery if the monitored system state is outside of a safe range. The electronic controller may also activate attention-commanding devices such as visual or audible alarms in response to the signal generated by the system state monitor to alert the physician to any abnormal or unsafe operating state of the care system apparatus.
The invention is further directed to an apparatus which includes a drug delivery controller, which delivers drugs to the patient, electronically integrated with an automated consciousness monitoring system which ensures the consciousness of the patient and generates signal values reflecting patient consciousness. An electronic controller is also included which is interconnected to the drug delivery controller and the automated consciousness monitor and manages the delivery of the drugs in accord with the signal values reflecting patient consciousness.
In another aspect, the invention includes one or more patient health monitors such as a pulse oximeter or capnometer and an automated consciousness monitoring system, wherein the patient health monitors and consciousness monitoring system are integrated with a drug delivery controller supplying an analgesic or other drug to the patient. A microprocessor-based electronic controller compares electronic feedback signals representing the patient's actual physiological condition including level of consciousness, with a stored safety data set of parameters reflecting patient physiological conditions (including consciousness level), and manages the delivery of the drug in accord with that comparison while ensuring the patient's consciousness. In additional aspects of the invention the automated consciousness monitoring system includes a patient stimulus or query device and a patient initiate response device.
The invention also provides apparatuses and methods for alleviating post-operative or other post-procedural pain or discomfort in a home care-type setting or remote medical care location. Here the care system includes at least one patient health monitor integrated with patient-controlled drug delivery. An electronic controller manages the patient-controlled drug delivery in accord with electronic feedback signals from the patient health monitors. In a preferred embodiment the electronic controller is responsive to software effecting conservative management of drug delivery in accord with a stored safety data set.
Other objects and many of the intended advantages of the invention will be readily appreciated as they become better understood by reference to the following detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention considered in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein:
The embodiments illustrated below are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. The embodiments are chosen and described in order to explain the principles of the invention and its applications and uses, and thereby enable others skilled in the art to make and utilize the invention.
Also shown in
It should be recognized that although certain embodiments of the invention show the analgesic delivery system 40 in a form for delivering one or more sedative, analgesic or amnestic drugs in gaseous form, the invention also specifically includes embodiments where such drugs are delivered intravenously, in nebulized, vaporized or other inhaled form, and/or transdermally such as by using known ion-transfer principles. Drugs that may be delivered by the care system include, but are not limited to, nitrous oxide, propofol, remifentanil, dexmedetamidine, epibatadine and sevoflurane. Alternative embodiments are described in more detail herein.
The stored safety data set 14 a (
As is described below, additional embodiments of the invention also contemplate provision of electronic feedback signals representing patient-controlled drug dosage increase or decrease requests to controller 14 and electronic management of drug delivery in consideration of such patient requests vis-a-vis the patient's physiological parameters and/or the state of the care system.
A block diagram of a preferred embodiment of a care system in accordance with the invention is depicted in
Patient interface system 12 includes one or more patient health monitors (these can be known vital sign monitors, such as non-invasive blood pressure monitors, or known pulse oximeters, capnometers, EKGs, etc.); means for monitoring the level of a patient's consciousness; and/or means for the patient to communicate with system 10 (
Still referring to
External communication devices 18 (also described in
The above systems overviewed in
Drug source system 42 contains sources of one or more gaseous drugs and oxygen and is coupled through pneumatic lines to electronic mixer system 42. Drug source system 42 is also electronically coupled to electronic controller 14, and as is described below, contains sensors monitoring one or more operating states of drug source system 42 (e.g., whether the drug is flowing). Such monitored system information is converted to appropriate electronic signals and fed back to electronic controller 14 via the electronic coupling.
Electronic mixer 44 receives the one or more gaseous drugs, O2 and atmospheric air through the pneumatic lines and electronically mixes same. Electronic mixer 44 is also electronically coupled to electronic controller 14 and also contains sensors that provide electronic feedback signals reflecting system operation parameters of mixer 44 to electronic controller 14. Mixer 44 includes electronic flow controllers with solenoid valves which receive flow control instruction signals from controller 14.
Manifold system 46 is coupled through pneumatic lines to and receives the one or more gaseous drugs, O2 and air mixture from electronic mixer 44 and delivers the mixture to the patient via airway circuit 20 (
Drug source system 42 is shown in further detail in
In additional aspects of the invention, drug source system 42 can include one or more of the following: known nebulizers 143 which enable the delivery of aerosolized drugs, such as morphine, meperidine, fentanyl and others; known vaporizers 145 which enable the delivery of halogenated agents, such as sevoflurane; known infusion pump-type drug delivery devices 147 or known transdermal-type drug delivery devices 149 (including ion transfer based devices) to enable the delivery of drugs such as propofol, remifentanil, and other infusible drugs by continuous or bolus administration.
The signal obtained from oxygen source pressure sensor 106 can be related to the user via display devices (e.g., 35,
The signal obtained from the drug source pressure sensor 206 can be related to the user via display devices (e.g., 35,
To increase safety, the known pin indexed safety system (P.I.S.S.) and/or diameter indexed safety system (D.I.S.S.) may be used for all O2 source and line fittings where appropriate for tank and/or in-house sources. This ensures, for example, that oxygen source 104 is not mistakenly attached to the drug line 209 and vice versa.
Electronic flow controllers 133, 135, which may be of a known type currently available including solenoid valves, are electronically coupled to and receive instruction signals from electronic controller 14 which has been programmed with and/or calculates a desired flow rate of oxygen and drug. Programmed flow rates may be those input by the physician user employing traditional choices regarding drug administration amounts and rates, including in IV embodiments, target controlled infusion principles, among others. Calculated flow rates may be arrived at through conservative decision-making software protocols including comparison of actual patient physiological condition feedback values with stored data representing safe and undesirable patient physiological conditions. Drug delivery is effected at the rates calculated in a closed, control-loop fashion (described in more detail below) by flow controllers 133, 135. Drug administration may be a combination of one or more physician inputs and/or electronic flow rate calculations based on patient and system state parameters; flow controllers may respond to instruction signals initiated by electronic controller 14 or by the physician.
Flow controllers 133, 135 receive instruction signals from controller 14 reflecting the electronic output of both system state monitors (such as pressure sensors 106, 206 described above) and patient state monitors. Flow controllers 133, 135, in response to instruction signals from controller 14, may curtail or cease flow of drug delivery when system state and/or patient health monitors indicate to controller 14 that failures in the operation of care system 10 have occurred, that system 10 is otherwise operating outside of an established safe state, or that a patient's physiological state (e.g., vital signs or consciousness level) has deteriorated to an unsafe condition.
As the invention includes both intravenous and gaseous, among other forms of drug delivery, such embodiments may also include known electronic flow controllers coupled to electronic controller 14 and responsive to instruction signals from controller 14 reflecting both patient and system states.
Referring again to
Moreover, pressure actuated valve 134 in drug line 209 responds to the amount of pressure in O2 line 109 and permits flow of gaseous drug only if sufficient oxygen flows through oxygen line 109. Check valve 136 a in drug line 209 ensures that the flow of gaseous drug to manifold system 46 is one-way and that there is no back-flow. Check valve 136 b in oxygen line 109 ensures one-way flow of O2 to manifold system 46 with no back-flow.
In atmospheric air line 139, air inlet solenoid valve 137 is electronically coupled to and activated by electronic controller 14 and if activated permits atmospheric air to be mixed with the oxygen gas by means of air ejector 138. Air ejector 138 injects a fixed ratio of atmospheric air into oxygen line 109. Filter 128 removes contaminants from air line 139 and check valve 136 c ensures one-way flow of air from solenoid valve 137 to ejector 138 with no back-flow.
Still referring to
Airway circuit and mask (20,
Referring again to
In the embodiment of the invention shown in
In an alternative preferred embodiment shown in
As is described above, system valves PIV 152 and PEV 168 ensure one-way flow of inspired and expired gases. The patient cannot re-breathe exhaled gases and no contaminants are allowed to enter the source system. The valve system INPRV 154, EPPRV 164, and ENPRV 178 (or the alternate INPRV 154 and pipe) provides a system fail-safe. If analgesic source system 42 (
It is noted that the valves and sensors between INPRV 154 and ENPRV 178 in a preferred embodiment of manifold system 46 can be considered a system state monitoring system because there are no valves controlled by the software of electronic controller 14. At this point in the care system 10, the gas has already been mixed and the volume determined by the flow controllers 133, 135 (
The determination of appropriate drug delivery/flow percentages by controller 14 can be accomplished through a variety of methods. Initial drug administration amounts and rates may be selected and input by the physician employing traditional methods. Physicians may also employ pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic modeling to predict resulting drug concentrations and their effect based on physician choices, but not permit automatic changes to drug concentrations without instructions from the physician. In intravenous embodiments known target-controlled infusion techniques may be employed where the physician selects a desired (targeted) blood serum or brain effective site concentration based on such patient parameters as height, weight, gender and/or age.
During operation of the system when an internal or external event occurs, such as the activation of a system or patient health monitor alarm or a physician or patient request for increased drug, electronic controller 14 determines the desired amount of intravenous drug (or fractional amount of O2, gaseous drug and air in the total gas flow) as the function of such event. The actual IV drug concentrations (or gaseous drug/O2/air fractions) are then calculated. These actual calculated amounts will not always be the same as those requested (e.g., by the user, patient or system) because of the often complex relationship between drug or drug and gas mixtures. In sum, drug mix fractions are typically calculated when, for example, an alarm levels change, alarm time-outs occur (e.g., there is no silencing of an initial alarm by the user), a user requests a change, the patient requests a change, when a procedure begins (system resorts to default values) and when a controller clock triggers.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention delivering gaseous drugs, flow controllers in mixer 44 (detailed in
In one aspect of the invention, the flow controllers 133, 135 match the FGF with patient minute ventilation rates. The minute ventilation rate is the volume of breath one inhales and then exhales (e.g., in cubic centimeters or milliliters) in one minute. A patient's respiratory physiology is balanced at this minute ventilation. The care system optimizes FGF rates by matching gas delivery to patient minute ventilation rates. This conserves gas supplies, minimizes the release of anesthesia gases into the operating environment, and helps balance respiratory function. For example, if the FGF is less than the minute ventilation, INPRV 154 will open to supplement the air flow (INPRV 154 being a mechanical system not under electronic control).
In an additional aspect of the invention, the care system will not only measure and monitor minute ventilation as described above, but also “effective minute ventilation” and thereby improve the quantitative information about patient physiology considered by the system. “Effective minute ventilation” is a term used herein to mean the amount of gas that is actually involved in respiratory gas exchange between the alveolar sacs of the lungs and the capillary blood surrounding those sacs (as opposed to simply the volume of gas one inhales and then exhales, “tidal volume”). This measure may be arrived at by subtracting the volume of anatomical space imposed between the air source (e.g., mouth) and the transfer of gas at the alveolar sacs (estimated from the patient's height and weight), from the tidal volume of gas to arrive at “effective tidal volume.” The effective tidal volume is then multiplied by respiratory rate to arrive at “effective minute ventilation.”
In a preferred embodiment, an emesis aspirator 19 (
To enhance the safety of the invention, housing 15 may include structure integrated adjacent or otherwise near where emesis aspirator 19 is stored within housing 15 (
A preferred embodiment of one aspect of the invention integrates drug delivery with one or more basic patient monitoring systems. These systems interface with the patient and obtain electronic feedback information regarding the patient's physiological condition. Referring to
A second patient monitoring system monitors a patient's level of consciousness by means of an automated consciousness query (ACQ) system 256 in accordance with the invention. ACQ system 256 comprises a query initiate device 264 and a query response device 266. ACQ system 256 operates by obtaining the patient's attention with query initiate device 264 and commanding the patient to activate query response device 266. Query initiate device 264 may be any type of a stimulus such as a speaker which provides an auditory command to the patient to activate query response device 266 and/or a vibrating mechanism which cues the patient to activate query response device 266. The automated pressurization of the blood pressure cuff employed in the patient health monitoring system may also be used as a stimulus. Query response device 266 can take the form of, for example, a toggle or rocker switch or a depressible button or other moveable member hand held or otherwise accessible to the patient so that the member can be moved or depressed by the patient upon the patient's receiving the auditory or other instruction to respond. In a preferred embodiment, the query system has multiple levels of auditory stimulation and/or vibratory or other sensory stimulation to command the patient to respond to the query. For example, an auditory stimulus would increase in loudness or urgency if a patient does not respond immediately or a vibratory stimulus may be increased in intensity.
After the query is initiated, ACQ system 256 generates signals to reflect the amount of time it took for the patient to activate response device 266 in response to query initiate device 264 (i.e., this amount of time is sometimes referred to as the “latency period”). ACQ system 256 is electronically coupled to electronic controller 14 and the signals generated by ACQ system 256 are suitably converted (e.g., employing an A-D converter) and thereby provided to controller 14. If the latency period is determined by controller 14, which employs software to compare the actual latency period with stored safety data set parameters reflecting safe and undesirable latency period parameters, to be outside of a safe range, the physician is notified, for example, by means of an alarm or other attention-commanding device. If no action is taken by the physician within a pre-set time period, controller 14 commands the decrease in level of sedation/analgesia/amnesia by control and operation on electronic flow controllers 133, 135 of
The patient interface system of
In an alternative embodiment, the physician is notified via user interface system 16 (display device 30 or LEDs remote control device 45),
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the patient controlled drug dosage request system 254 has lock-out capabilities that prevent patient self-administration of drugs under certain circumstances. For example, access to self-administration will be prevented by electronic controller 14 under circumstances where patient physiology parameters or machine state parameters are or are predicted to be outside of the stored safety data set parameters. Access to self-administration of drugs could also be inhibited at certain target levels or predicted target levels of drugs or combined levels of drugs. For example, if it were predicted that the combined effect of requested drugs would be too great, drug delivery in response to patient requests would be prohibited. It is noted that such predictive effects of drugs could be determined through the use of various mathematical modeling, expert system type analysis or neural networks, among other applications. In short, the invention is designed to dynamically change drug administration and amount variables as a function of patient physiology, care system state and predictive elements of patient physiology.
Additionally, it is contemplated that patient self-administration of drugs could be prohibited at times when drug levels are changing rapidly. For example, if a patient is experiencing pain and that is apparent to the physician, the physician may increase the target level of drug while at the same time the patient requests additional drug. The subject invention will sequentially address the physician and patient requests for drug increases and will lock out any patient-requested increases that are beyond programmed parameters.
In an additional aspect of the invention, a patient may be stimulated or reminded to administer drugs based on electronic feedback from the patient physiology monitoring systems. For example, if there is an underdosing of analgesics and the patient is suffering pain evidenced by a high respiratory rate or high blood pressure reflected in electronic feedbacks to the electronic controller, the controller can prompt the patient to self-administer an increase in drugs. This could be accomplished by, for example, an audio suggestion in the patient's ear. Thus, it is contemplated that the invention will have an anticipatory function where it will anticipate the patient's needs for increased drugs.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, one or more patient vital sign monitoring devices 252, ACQ system devices 256, and a drug dosage request device 254 are mechanically integrated in a cradle or gauntlet device 55 (
In an alternative embodiment of hand cradle device 55, now referring to
All embodiments of hand cradle device 55 are constructed so as to be ambidextrous in nature, namely, they accommodate and are workable by a patient's right or left hand. For example, in
In an additional aspect of the invention, it is contemplated that the care system's automated monitoring of one patient health conditions is synchronized with the monitoring of one or more other patient health conditions. For example, in a preferred embodiment, if the controller 14, receives low O2 saturation, low heart rate or a low perfusion index feedback information from the pulse oximeter (e.g., the actual parameter received is in the undesirable range of the stored safety data set for those parameters), such feedback will trigger controller 14 to automatically inflate the blood pressure cuff and check the patient's blood pressure. (This is because low O2 saturation can be caused by low blood pressure; and low heart rate can cause low blood pressure and vice versa, etc.) Therefore, under normal operating conditions the preferred embodiment of the invention will automatically check the patient blood pressure every 3 to 5 minutes, and whenever there is a change in other patient parameters such as blood O2 saturation or heart rate. In another example, the electronic checking of blood pressure is synchronized with the automated consciousness query because the activation of the cuff may arouse a patient and affect query response times. Thus the invention contemplates an “orthogonal redundancy” among patient health monitors to ensure maximum safety and effectiveness.
As described above, one aspect of a preferred embodiment of the invention includes the electronic management of drug delivery via software/logic controlled electronic controller 14 to integrate and correlate drug delivery with electronic feedback signals from system monitors, one or more patient monitor/interface devices and/or user interface devices. Specifically, electronic signal values are obtained from care system state monitors; from patient monitor/interface devices (which can include one or more vital sign or other patient health monitors 252, ACQ system 256, and/or patient drug dosage request device 254,
As also indicated above, the software effecting electronic management of drug delivery by controller 14 employs “conservative decision-making” or “negative feedback” principles. This means, for example, that the electronic management of drug delivery essentially only effects an overall maintenance or decrease in drug delivery (and does not increase drugs to achieve overall increased sedation/analgesia). For example, if ACQ system 256 (
In another example of such electronic management of drug delivery by conservative decision-making principles, if ACQ system 256 (
A further example of the invention's electronic management of drug delivery through conservative, decision-making software instruction employs known target-controlled infusion software routines to calculate an appropriate dosage of IV drug based on patient physical parameters such as age, gender, body weight, height, etc. Here, a practitioner provides the patient physiological parameters through the user interface system, the electronic controller 14 calculates the appropriate drug dosage based on those parameters, and drug delivery begins, for example, as a bolus and is then brought to the pre-calculated target level of infusion. If later there is a significant change in a patient monitored parameter, e.g., pulse oximetry or latency period falls outside of a desired range, controller 14 effects a decrease in overall drug delivery as described above.
One concern that the invention addresses with respect to the target controlled infusion of IV drugs is the nature and speed at which the care system reaches the steady state target level of drug. For example, an important consideration for the physician is, once drug administration begins, when is the patient sufficiently medicated (e.g., sedated or anesthetized), so that the physician can begin the procedure. It is frequently desirable that the patient reach the steady state target level of drug as rapidly as possible so that the procedure can begin as soon as possible. It has been determined that one way of reaching a suitable level of drug effectiveness quickly is to initially overshoot the ultimate steady state target drug level. This shortens the time between the beginning of drug delivery and the onset of clinical drug effectiveness so that the procedure may begin. Typically, predicted target levels have an error of plus or minus 20%, therefore, one approach of reaching the clinical. effectiveness state quickly is to attempt to reach at least 80% of the ultimate target level, but initially overshoot that 80% level by giving a 15% additional increase of drug infusion beyond the 80% target. One method of accomplishing this is to use currently available PDI controllers which employ an error state (here the difference between predicted drug levels in the blood stream and the target level) to arrive at an infusion rate. Other control systems, however, that allow some initial overshoot of the target blood level of the drug to get to a clinical effectiveness level quicker would also be appropriate.
One or more patient health monitors 412 such as known pulse oximeters, blood pressure cuffs, CO2 end tidal monitors, EKG, and/or consciousness monitors, or other monitors such as those indicated herein, monitor the patient's physiological condition. Drug dosage may be pre-set by a physician prior to or during application of drug delivery and/or also patient controlled thereafter by means of a patient drug dosage increase or,decrease request devices generally of the type of that described above. It should also be understood that the intravenous delivery of drugs may be by continuous infusion, target-controlled infusion, pure bolus, patient-elected bolus or combinations thereof.
Still referring to
In certain aspects of the invention, controller 414 may also access, through software, pre-set parameters stored in a memory device representing initial or target drug dosages and lock-outs of patient drug administration requests as described above. In these circumstances, instruction signals generated by controller 414 would also account for and control drug delivery in accord with these pre-set parameters.
This embodiment of the invention would also typically include system state monitors, such as electronic sensors which indicate whether power is being supplied to the system or which measure the flow of drugs being delivered. Such system state monitors are electronically coupled to controller 414 and provide feedback signals to same—the control of drug delivery by controller 414 electronically coupled to drug source system 442 in response to said feedback signals is similar to that as described herein with respect to other embodiments.
In another aspect of the invention, electronic controller 414 is located on a remote computer system and electronically manages on-site drug delivery integrating and correlating same with on-site monitoring of patient physiological conditions and care system states as described above, but here with instructions signals generated from a remote location. It is contemplated that controller 414 may, in some embodiments, effect transmission via modem or electronic pager or cellular-type or other wired or wireless technologies of electronic alarm alerts to remote locations if a monitored patient parameter such as the percentage of oxygen absorbed into the blood (SpO2) falls outside of a safe established value or range of values as established by the stored safety data set. Such remote locations could thereby summon an ambulance or other trained caregiver to respond to the alarm alert.
Specifically, a keypad and/or touch screen 230 (
Visual display devices 234 (
One version of a preferred embodiment of visual display 234 is shown in
The visual display device 2230 of this embodiment also includes a second portion of the display 2236 which is devoted to displaying the actions taken or soon to be taken by the care system. For example, if in response to an alarm indicating a latency period outside of an established safe range the apparatus will decrease the flow of drug to the patient, this second portion 2236 displays the percentage decrease in drug dosage to be effected.
Visual display 2230 facilitates the physician's interaction with the apparatus by walking the physician through various system operation software subprograms. Such subprograms may include system start-up where a variety of system self-checks are run to ensure that the system is fully functional; and a patient set-up. To begin the procedure, the care system monitors are placed on the patient and the physician activates the system by turning it on and entering a user ID (it is contemplated that such user ID would only be issued to physicians who are trained and credentialed). Next, the visual display would prompt the physician to begin a pre-op assessment, including inputting patient ID information and taking a patient history and/or physical. In the pre-op assessment, the physician poses to the patient a series of questions aimed at determining appropriate drug dosage amounts (such as age, weight, height and gender), including factors indicative of illness or high sensitivity to drugs. The responses to such questions would be inputted into the care system and employed by the system to assist the physician in selecting the appropriate dose amount. For example, the care system may make available to the physician one range of dosage units for a healthy person and a narrower range of dosage units for a sick or older person. The physician would have to make an explicit decision to go above the recommended range.
In addition to the pre-op assessment performed by the physician described above, it is also contemplated that the care system is capable of performing an automated pre-op assessment of the patient's physiology. For example, with the monitors in place, the care system will assess such parameters as the oxygenation function of the patient's lungs and/or the ventilatory function of the patient's lungs. The oxygenation function could be determined, for example, by considering the A-a gradient, namely, the alveolar or lung level of oxygen compared to the arteriolar or blood level of oxygen. The ventilatory function of the lungs could be determined from pulmonary function tests (PFTs), among other things, which are measurements of the amount of air and the pressure at which that air is moved in and out of the lungs with each breath or on a minute basis. (It is contemplated that these assessments are performed before the procedure begins and during the procedure as a dynamic intra-operative assessment as well.) Also during the pre-op (or as a continuous intra-operative) assessment, heart function may be assessed by viewing the output of an EKG to determine whether there is evidence of ischemia or arrhythmias. Alternatively, automated algorhythms could be applied to the EKG signals to diagnose ischemia or arrhythmias. Additional automated patient health assessments could also be made.
During patient set-up, current patient and system parameters may also be assessed and displayed, and the consciousness-query system and patient drug increase/decrease system tested and baselined. A set drug subprogram allow for the selection of drugs and/or mixture of drugs (or drug, oxygen and air), allows for picking target levels of drugs, and/or permits enabling of the patient's self-administration of drugs within certain ranges. The invention also contemplates during the pre-op assessment determining a sedation threshold limit for the given patient in the unstimulated state. This could be done as a manual check, i.e., by simply turning up the drug levels and watching the patient manually or the procedure could be automated where the drugs are increased and the safety set parameters such as those for latency (consciousness queries) are tested as the concentration at the drug effect site is increased.
The system and patient status and system action may be displayed during, for example, a sedation subprogram. Visual display device 2230 may include graphical and numeric representations of patient monitored conditions such as patient respiratory and ventilatory status, consciousness, blood O2 saturation, heart rate and blood pressure (2238); an indication of elapsed time from the start of drug delivery (2239); drug and/or O2 concentrations (2241); and indications of patient requests for increases or decreases in drug (2243). The actual fraction of inspired oxygen calculated may also be displayed. Command “buttons” are included to mute alarms (2240), change concentration of drug delivered (2242), turn on or off the mixing of an oxygen stream with atmospheric air (2244), and to turn on or off or make other changes to the automated consciousness query system (2246). Command buttons may also be included to place the apparatus in a “recovery” mode once the procedure is completed (patient parameters are monitored, but drug delivery is disabled) (2248), and to end the case and start a new case (2250) or shut-down the system.
An alternate version of a preferred embodiment of the visual display portion of the invention is shown in
Portion 2214 of display 2200 shows the past, present and predicted levels (2215) of drug administration (the drug levels shown in
Display portions 2220 and 2224 depict graphical representations of patient health parameters such as the A-a gradient (oxygenation function) for the lungs, the results of pulmonary function tests, electrocardiogram, blood O2 saturation, among others.
In another aspect of the invention, visual display 35 (
Referring again to
Further, if the value of oxygen saturation (SpO2) is less than 85%, but greater than or equal to 80% (221 c), alarm 2 sounds and the amount of N2O being delivered is immediately reduced to the lesser of a concentration of 45% or the current concentration minus 10% (224). If the feedback value SpO2 from the pulse oximeter indicates that the oxygen saturation in the blood is less than 80%, alarm 3 sounds and the amount of N2O being delivered would be immediately reduced to 0% (225).
Similar protocols are described in
It should be understood that the system responses to alarms (described above in terms of decreases or cessation of drug concentration) could also include institution and/or increases in administration of oxygen in accord with patient and system state parameters as described above. In circumstances where drugs are halted and pure oxygen (or an O2 atmospheric mix) is provided, e.g., where feedback signals indicate the patient has a low blood O2 saturation, a preferred system is designed to operate in a LIFO (“last-in-first-out”) manner. This means that when controller 14 receives feedback signaling an adverse patient or machine state and instructs flow controllers to turn on the oxygen, the very next breath the patient takes will be of pure O2 (and/or atmospheric air) rather than of a drug/air mixture. This may be accomplished, for example, by supplying O2 for air directly to PIV 152 (
In another example of
Similar protocols are described in
In the above examples, involving response to patient physiological state, there is a time lapse between the alarm's sounding and any decrease in drug delivery to the patient. In alternate protocols contemplated by the invention, electronic controller 14 will immediately cease or curtail drug administration upon the sounding of an alarm. For less critical (“yellow”) alarms, drug delivery may be decreased to 80% levels upon the sounding of the alarm; for more critical (“red”) alarms, drug delivery would cease upon the sounding of the alarm. In either case, the physician will then be given time, for example, thirty seconds, to instruct controller 14 to restart the drug delivery (e.g., the physician will need to override the curtailing of drug delivery). If the physician does override controller 14, drugs are reinitiated, for example, by a bolus amount. This method prevents against a patient's deteriorating while a physician waits to respond to an alarm at current drug levels, and also avoids underdosing by permitting the physician sufficient time to reinitiate drug delivery.
Referring again to
A preferred embodiment of the invention includes a variety of peripheral electronic devices, one group internal to or integrated within housing 15 of apparatus 10 (e.g.,
In a preferred embodiment, the software control processes of electronic controller 14 are stored in a standard flash memory 196 and SRAM type battery-backed memory 197 stores system, patient and other status information in the event of an AC power loss. On-board fault detection processor (FDP) 198 signals failures to controller 14 and is a secondary microprocessor based computing system which relieves controller 14 of its control duties if a fault is detected in operation. On-board watch dog timer 199 indicates to controller 14 that the apparatus 10 is functioning and resets controller 14 if system 10 fails to respond.
A preferred embodiment of the invention also includes a standard serial port interface, such as an RS-232C serial port, for data transfer to and from electronic controller 14. The port enables, for example, downloading software upgrades to and transfer of system and patient log data from controller 14. An interface such as a PC Type III slot is also provided to enable the addition of computer support devices to system 10, such as modems or a LAN, to be used, for example, to transfer billing information to a remote site; or to permit diagnosis of problems remotely thereby minimizing the time required for trouble-shooting and accounting.
It should be understood that the care system of the invention may be modular in nature with its functions divided into separable, portable, plug-in type units. For example, electronic controller 14, display devices (
At the termination of a medical or surgical procedure or at some other desired period, information/billing storage system 280 processes the received data and transmits same to revenue/billing processing center 286 at a remote location. Revenue/billing processing center 286 may be of a known, mainframe-type computing system such as that manufactured by International Business Machines (IBM) or a known client-server type computer network system. At the remote location a patient invoice is generated by printer 287 as may be other revenue records used for payment to vendors, etc.
The invention also contemplates that an automated record of the system operation details will be printed at the user site on printer 285 which is preferably located on-board apparatus 10 (