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UC helps critically ill patients with mechanical engineering

UC research helping save lives of critically ill patients through mechanical engineering

March 20, 2014

University of Canterbury (UC) research is helping save lives of critically ill patients with cutting-edge mechanical engineering devices.

UC’s Distinguished Professor Geoff Chase is working with Christchurch Hospital and other New Zealand hospitals in intensive care, which makes up close to 10 percent of health care costs.

"The last few months of life in particular costs a lot of money. So the areas we are working are the bread and butter therapies that make intensive care cost more and in particular, things that increase risk of emission, length of time in intensive care and risk of death.

"These areas have the biggest economic impact such as cardiovascular monitoring and treatment, pulmonary or breathing monitoring and treatment and managing blood sugar levels - which can get high due to the stress of being critically ill."

Professor Chase will give a public lecture on campus next Wednesday (March 26) and will talk about reducing the health bill and new technology for critically-ill patients. View a YouTube preview interview here:

The country’s intensive care units are under stress to serve increasing demand by providing a lot more for patients, for a lot less cost. UC research has improved glycemic control for severely ill patients over the last nine years helping save up to 80 lives a year.

"We have basically put 50 to 80 lives a year back into Christchurch, returning about one million dollars a year to the hospital budget.

"As engineers we believe technology can solve most problems, if not all. Engineering technology has brought massive productivity gains to a range of industries.

"Mechanical engineering is all about dynamics and how things move and within the physiology of the patients. There are a lot of interesting dynamics and the better we can understand those, the better we can help doctors diagnose, monitor and treat, which are the three cornerstone pieces of delivering medicine.

"We work with a large group of hospitals in New Zealand and overseas. We work mostly with the Christchurch Hospital intensive care unit, but also with the Christchurch Women’s Hospital, in the neo-natal intensive care unit with Doctor Adrian Lyn.

"We work with Jane Harding, Distinguished Professor of Auckland and the Liggins institute and Auckland Hospital, with Waikato Dunedin hospitals, and also people in Germany, Hungary, Belgium, France, Switzerland and the UK."


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