Professional associations publish guidelines. Guidelines can be helpful, but they can also be complex, long, and hard to quickly make sense of when you are trying to move patients through the OR. Take for example the "GUIDELINES FOR MANAGING REGIONAL ANESTHESIA IN THE PATIENT RECEIVING ANTITHROMBOTIC OR THROMBOLYTIC THERAPY" published by the American Society for Regional Anesthesia and Pain Management. These guidelines are 40 pages long!!! A recent study showed that when anesthesia providers were tested on applying the guidelines to clinical situations most of them failed the test!!!
We want to take the best possible care of our patients. And there are those out there watching to see if we followed accepted guidelines if anything goes wrong, even if we did everything right. None of us can memorize 40 pages of guidelines. Is there any hope for using such guidelines intelligently? Yes!!! While administrators are busy criticizing the use of smartphones in the OR, others are busy writing apps that run on smartphones that can support our clinical decision making process.
We live in an age when, even within a single profession, there is far more to know than any one person can know. We are responsible for mastering the foundations of our professional knowledge and skill base. We are responsible for mastering content above the foundational information in areas we work in regularly. I'm not suggesting that we can just look everything up as we go along. But research clearly shows that when it comes to highly technical and/or complicated information, reference materials and decision support apps can contribute to better decisions. In this case, consider "ASRA Coags," available in the iOS and Google app stores. In the study I mentioned earlier, those that used ASRA Coags were much more likely to pass the test.
Read about Smartphone Apps used for decision support in Anesthesia in a sample issue of Anesthesia Abstracts. The sample issue is available for you to read for the next two weeks without a subscription. (If you want to earn the CE credits you'll need a subscription.)
Michael A. Fiedler, PhD, CRNA
P.S. See all our Mobile App reviews in the "News and Reviews" section of this web site.