Without hands-on access to doctors and hospitals, oil rig workers who become sick or injured increasingly rely on telemedicine "visits" with physicians and specialists on land, a trend explored in detail in an article published in Telemedicine and e-Health, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
Work on an oil rig can be dangerous, with cuts, sprains, fractures, and other injuries not uncommon. Ailments such as respiratory infections, asthma, and heart attack also pose a serious problem on a rig, where access to medical professionals is limited. To improve healthcare delivery, oil companies increasingly depend on technology to link a nurse or emergency medical technician working on the oil platform to emergency physicians and specialists at major medical centers through Internet or satellite connections.
Laboratory test results and clinical findings can be relayed in this way, and the use of webcams, Skype, and even a photograph relayed from a smartphone are giving physicians a first-hand look at injuries and an opportunity to assess a patient's status with their own eyes. Some telemedicine devices housed on oil rigs may include EKG capabilities, a blood pressure monitor, thermometer, pulse oximeter, or glucose meter, in addition to two-way voice, data, and video transmission.
"As we have seen in the last several months, working on an offshore oil platform is a dangerous job. Access to healthcare via telemedicine is an excellent application of technology and can save lives and money," says Charles R. Doarn, MBA, co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal and Associate Professor of Public Health Sciences and Biomedical Engineering, University of Cincinnati.
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