Big Data successfully used in a medical emergency

Author

ankarnik

January 6, 2015

In 2011, a young girl from Reno, Nevada, was flown by helicopter to the pediatric intensive care unit of the hospital, She was a gravely ill patient with kidneys rapidly failing and had been administered morphine to reduce her crushing abdominal pain.

The girl was diagnosed as lupus, a disease in which the immune system attacks the body’s healthy tissues. Lupus can cause permanent kidney damage. Some lupus patients may develop blood clots, which can travel to the heart or lungs and be deadly. Blood clots can be prevented with an anti-coagulant, which keeps the blood flowing, but that, too, carries risks. A patient on blood thinners can have a stroke or bleed into an organ and can also complicate surgery. Giving the drug was risky. Not giving the drug was also risky.

What was to be done? A decision had to be made quickly.

Since there wasn’t enough published literature to guide this decision, most physicians often thought that the best route was to not do anything.

Enter BIG DATA.

As luck would have it, there was a database of previously-seen pediatric lupus patients being maintained in the hospital.

One of the paediatrician had digitized the charts and made them searchable with keywords. Like any chronic medical condition, lupus generates a staggering amount of paperwork. Doctors follow each patient for years, even a decade and all that data was accessible with one keystroke.

Immediately scrolling through the data led to access to intelligent information such as how many pediatric lupus patients who had come through the hospital developed blood clots, and what the risk factors were. Based on that, the patient was given the anti-coagulant. Over time her lupus got better.

This is how the techology helped a dying patient. This is the fantastic application of use of technology in medicine.

 

This blog post is the personal view of the author and do not express the views or opinions of Capgemini. 

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