In use at hospitals since 1997, the VIA Blood Gas and Chemistry Monitor (VIA Medical Corp.; San Diego, CA) provides fast monitoring of blood values. Not only does it meet the healthcare team's need to provide optimal care, but also it works well in a managed care environment to minimize lab costs. It also saves lives, as the following case demonstrates.
A Texas hospital was evaluating the VIA Blood Gas and Chemistry Monitor when an 85-year-old woman in critical condition was transferred into the cardiac intensive care unit (ICU). She had just undergone a four-hour coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) procedure. Due to an earlier prognosis, she was identified as having a high potential for post-operative bleeding complications and was therefore an ideal candidate for frequent blood monitoring.
At 4:00 p.m., she came off bypass and the hospital lab ran a series of blood chemistry tests. At that point, her hematocrit level was 30. At 5:00 p.m. the patient was attached to the VIA System because of her high-risk status.
The VIA monitor delivers information about blood chemistries in 70 seconds. This includes measured values of pH, pCO2, PO2, K+, Na+, Hct, and calculated values of Hgb, BE, HCO3-, TCO2, and oxygen saturation.
With the VIA monitor, all blood stays within the system and no blood is lost. You connect the device to an existing arterial line to automatically withdraw blood, analyze it, and then reinfuse the blood to the patient. Chemistry tests can be performed as often as every 10 minutes.
The first sample had a hematocrit value of 18, a value the physician believed impossible, since the patient's drainage vacuum canister and chest tubes were clear. A second VIA sample showed a value of 16. The clinician sent a sample to the lab for verification and in the mean time infused two units of blood.
The hematocrit number from the central lab was 16. The patient was immediately readmitted to the operating room, where the surgeon discovered significant bleeding in her thoracic abdominal wall. Although the patient coded on the table at 5:30 p.m, the surgical team stopped the bleeding and the patient returned to the ICU.
If the hospital hadn't been evaluating the VIA system, her next blood work wouldn't have been performed until 6:00 p.m. With the VIA system, this dangerous trend was caught in time.