Free iPhone app improves docs' emergency response

A trial finds that doctors using an app called iResus perform significantly better during a simulated emergency than doctors who don't.

Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore is based in Portland, Oregon, and has written for Wired, The Christian Science Monitor, and public radio. Her semi-obscure hobbies include climbing, billiards, board games that take up a lot of space, and piano.
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
2 min read

An app developed by the UK Resuscitation Council may help doctors in emergency cardiac arrest situations, according to a study in the April issue of the journal Anaesthesia.

Dr. Daniel Low developed the free iResus application. Dr. Daniel Low 2011

Researchers recruited 31 doctors (average age 27.5 years) who had taken advanced life-support training in the past four years to investigate whether the free app, called iResus, can improve test scores in simulated cardiac emergencies.

The doctors were divided into two groups--those who used iResus during the simulation and those who did not. Their knowledge and skills were evaluated using the CASTest scoring system during the simulated cardiac arrest emergency.

Those who used the app averaged 84.5 out of 100 (ranging from 75.5 to 92.5), and those who did not averaged 72 (ranging from 61 to 87).

It should not be surprising that the app, which uses adult and pediatric algorithms to provide prompts, performed better than mere human memory. This is why reference books exist, and the app is akin to a lightweight and interactive reference book that's compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.

But the researchers at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, U.K., warn that the app needs to be put to the test in actual clinical settings before its usefulness is fully confirmed. For now, more than 60,000 copies of the app have been downloaded, according to Dr. Daniel Low, the consultant anesthetist who developed the application, in a news release.

"A health care professional recently told us that they had used it when they were involved in an out-of-hospital pediatric emergency," he adds. "Being able to refer to pediatric drug doses they were unfamiliar with helped them to save a child's life."