Fast Company

This App Could Save Your Life

iResus, a step-by-step emergency response documentation app, improved doctor performance in a simulation.

Despite being among the brightest minds in the world and undergoing years of sleepless education, doctors can fail to remember vital information in an emergency--especially under pressure. New evidence suggests that a handy step-by-step iPhone app, iResus, can "substantially" improve doctors' performance in a simulated emergency scenario, compared to control group without access to the app. The app comes with separate instructions for non-professionals as well.

Produced by the U.K. Resuscitation Council, the app provides detailed guidelines and dosage suggestions on a range of adult and pediatric conditions, from choking to newborn life support. Where necessary, pictures are embedded to demonstrate proper movement.

To assess the app's effectiveness, 16 of 31 doctors were randomly assigned to perform an established medical simulation with the aid of iResus. "iResus improved junior doctors’ CASTest scores during a standardised simulated cardiac arrest scenario when compared with those applying purely their own knowledge and experience," says the study, published in the journal, Anaesthesia. While its unclear how simulation performance would perform in the real world, as the graph shows below, none in the iResus treatment group performed in the lowest category.

The report notes that, despite glowing reviews for medical cheat sheets, "a culture still remains in which doctors may be reluctant to use cognitive aids for fear of appearing incompetent." Yet, participants in the study did not appear to think that using the app would brand them with the stigma (though, the participation was voluntary, so the survey sample could be biased).

The app isn't merely for health professionals, basic instructions are provided for everyday citizens as well, making it a potentially life-saving tool for the slice of citizens that will, statistically speaking, happen to find themselves in a medical emergency.

Results from the study are promising; now the group will need to follow up in an actual (clinical) emergency setting to verify the positive findings.

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[Image: Dr. Daniel Low, 2011]

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