Wireless monitoring during labor offers patients more mobility, eases burden for nurses

A study of wireless monitoring of inpatient pregnant women yielded results similar to usual care, and both patients and nurses approved of the program, according to research published in Telemedicine and e-Health.

The study involved 30 women at Massachusetts General Hospital who wore the wireless monitors for 30 minutes. Their heart rate, respiratory rate and core temperature were captured and transmitted to a central monitor.

During labor, vital signs traditionally are taken every 30 minutes during active labor and every 15 minutes following delivery, which can be labor-intensive for staff. Wireless monitoring can maintain surveillance yet ease that burden while allowing flexibility and mobility for patients.

Patients found the device--sensors attached to the chest with two standard adhesive electrodes--comfortable (78 percent), likeable (81 percent) and useful (97 percent). Nurses rated the system easy to use (80 percent) and 84 percent would recommend it to a patient.

In this study, repeaters were used to extend the range and ensure transmission throughout the labor and delivery unit.

"Well-validated monitors of this nature could significantly alleviate the human resource burden of monitoring during labor and confer greatly desired mobility to laboring pregnant women, although incorporation of blood pressure monitoring will be critical," the researchers wrote.

The Mayo Clinic, in a program called OB Nest, has turned to remote monitoring to reduce the number of prenatal visits for women with low-risk pregnancies.

To learn more:
- here's the abstract