Device aims to help doctors prepare the right dosage of medication for children in the ER

By Kelly Greig


A team from McGill University has developed a device that can help determine the appropriate dosage of medications for children in the emergency room.

The right dose for children is based on their weight, but it’s not always easy to get them on the scale during an emergency.

According to Dr. Ilana Bank, who works in the ER at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, valuable time is lost simply preparing the right medications.

“That is what takes much longer than the actual physical maneuvers of examining the patient,” she explained.

But a new McGill-made device hopes to change this: Nura Medical’s “IV Assistant” is a band that attaches to a child’s arm, measuring the circumference and automatically calculating their weight.

“We heard over and over again the physician asking. ‘where are my meds, my patient needs my meds,’” said Georgia Powell, co-founder of Nura Medical and a master’s student in McGill’s experimental surgery department. “With this we kind of had this a-ha moment.”

The device aims to take some of the guess work out of emergency care.

“It’s often left to the doctor in charge to look at the patient and say ‘it looks like about 20 to 30 kilograms,’” said CEO and co-founder Jean-Gabriel Lacombe.

And manual calculations can lead to a lot of errors.

According to a study from the University of Toronto,  children receiving the wrong dose of medication is common. 30 per cent of the time it led to serious complications, and in 0.01 of cases it was lethal.

The research found the most frequent causes for mistakes were workload, distraction, and communication.

“Saving time is truly saving a life, because time is really of the essence when you’re resuscitating someone and getting those mediations [which] will actually allow those patients to have a higher chance of survival,” said Dr. Bank.

The IV Assistant will be rolled out to hospitals across Canada, including the Montreal Children’s Hospital, for a six-month pilot project.

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