MURRAY — Researchers at Intermountain Medical Center have developed what they say is the world’s first real-time tool for diagnosing pneumonia.
The study of the development and initial tests of the device were published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine.
The invention was designed to save crucial minutes during diagnosis in the emergency room. The technology enables medical equipment to simultaneously diagnose about 40 possible indicators of pneumonia while doctors attend to the patient’s most pressing symptoms.
“Aspects of pneumonia care are fairly sophisticated, and this helps us gather the data needed to support a more accurate and timely diagnosis," said Dr. Nathan Dean, the study’s primary author and a section chief of medicine at Intermountain Medical Center. “The tool exceeds human ability to process information.”
Doctors at Intermountain Medical Center, LDS Hospital, Alta View Hospital and Riverton Hospital have been testing the sophisticated software for nearly two years. David Barnes, a doctor who contributed to the research, said getting published in one of the oldest and most established medical journals in the United States is a landmark step in making the technology more widely available.
“This is a publication with a high standard, so to us this is an important step,” Barnes said. “Hopefully we’ll see it spread to other facilities throughout the country.”
The 40 variables that indicate a possibility of infection include oxygen levels, respiratory levels, chest X-rays and primary symptoms. The factors were identified after Intermountain Medical Center conducted a study of more than 48,000 emergency room patients, nearly 2,500 of which were positively diagnosed with pneumonia.