Skip to comments.Could Medical Robotics Be Used to Handle Ebola Patients?
Posted on 08/01/2014 10:25:35 PM PDT by CorporateStepsister
Now, should the medical workers in the Ebola infected countries use robotic technology to handle patients, administer certain drugs, and then do certain functions that could prevent the spread of the disease to the workers in the medical field?
I thought this would be a much better way to have patients taken care of and reduce risk drastically in regards to patient to doctor/carer transmission.
We aren’t there yet and certainly not in Africa.
And if we were there, who would maintain the robots?
That simply is not going to happen. There not only is a lack of trained personnel and effective isolation equipment in Africa, but the people now fear quarantine and isolation. They view it as a death sentence. The disease will simply run its course since there is no effective cure. No doubt politicians will make sanctimonious speeches, promise aid and comfort, but there will in effect be no effectual action since frankly it is not possible.
Everything that comes in contact with the patient will have to be thrown away. I can’t see them using robotics. It would be a good idea though if a robot was not so expensive.
Medical knowledge is not static, fortunately, and in the future there may appear better treatments for Ebola as well as immunizations for medical personnel.
Robotics is not good enough yet to handle many care issues today, but that does not mean it can’t be good enough tomorrow. I’d tend to say look to the Japanese to produce the required innovations.
It would be easier to sanitize a robot than a person.
Yes, but this disease uses the highest level of isolation techniques which is disposing of everything that comes in contact with the patient. That is why the pods they are using to transport the patients to the States will not be reused.
There were people in Africa refusing polio vaccines because they were told it was a western plot to sterilize them.
Robot doctors and nurses, like CP30 or the robot on ‘Lost Planet’? Or ‘Lost In Space? “Danger! Danger Will Robinson. Your innards are liquifying and the linings of your intestines are sloughing!”.
Robots are made out of things like metal and plastic... these can be sanitized if necessary. It would be worth it for a robot; not worth it for a pod.
There are many ways the approach and treatment to this and other diseases will be different in the future. However at the present this outbreak of Ebola will run its natural course the way prior outbreaks have done. It is a poor man’s disease since it is spread by the direct contact with the secretions of infected humans. Poor hygiene, close living and sleeping quarters and inadequate sanitation are the culprits. It is not likely to spread to first world nations in an endemic fashion.
“..these can be sanitized if necessary.”
I think I read where Ebola dies out in the cooler months (in Africa? Maybe I’m wrong.) But if it is temperature sensitive they could run stuff through the cooler for 24 hours. I think it only lasts on a hard surface for a few days anyway.
There was a photograph of heavy duty rubber gloves and boots hanging to dry in one photo - so obviously they aren’t throwing everything away. I imagine a good bleach solution and air-dry kills the virus. Of course that assumes they washed everything well.
Many of the people who are exposed never become deathly ill and some may not even notice symptoms. That is one of the insidious things about this bug.
I worked for four years in an isolation ward. At an ebola level of disease everything that comes in contact with the patient will have to be disposable. And a special effort will have to be made to burn whatever comes out of the room. So if they can make a disposable robot that they don’t mind destroying after treating one patient, I guess they would consider using a robot.
Truly... did you ever actually deal with an ebola case?
Do they throw out entire gurneys, etc.?
And you have forgotten about the option of a disposable skin for the robot... the underlying structure does NOT need to be destroyed. Watch your limiting assumptions.
I think this is a good concept.
The reponse of a given individual to an infection is dictated by genetics. either you have the genes that direct an effective immunological response or you don’t. throughout history a disease goes through a given population numerous times killing off the “susceptible” people who cannot mount an effective immunological response. Eventually the surviving population is “immune” since they have the necessary genes to mount an effective immunological response. Consider bubonic plague it ravaged Europe repeatedly until the late 17th century. Yet despite the horrendous conditions in urban areas, concentration camps and prisoner of war camps there were no outbreaks during WW II and its immediate aftermath. Why? The Europeans who’s ancestors had survived the bubonic plague as a population had the gene to protect them. Eventually and painfully the same thing will happen in Africa.Of course it would be beneficial to have an effective treatment or vaccine to mitigate the suffering.
To get Ebola, you have to have bare skin contact with the patient’s bodily fluids. As long as those handling the infected are properly attired, there will not be any further cases.
They probably brought them into the country so they can study it in a proper facility than an African one.
“Growing concerns over ‘in the air’ transmission of Ebola”
The original Nature publication:
I read that yesterday. I tend to think they know how to take the precautions necessary.
” I tend to think they know how to take the precautions necessary.”
Which is why it’s infected so many US trained meds already.
And maybe not:
“Newly released federal documents show that oversight gaps at the CDC Division of Select Agents and Toxins (DSAT) may have contributed to biosafety lapses at six laboratories handling pathogens including smallpox, influenza and monkeypox. As a result, the inspectors may have put public safety at risk.”
Well, since I don’t want anyone to talk to me when I’m sick...it might not be a bad option.
Someone that wants love and attention when they are sick...maybe not.
Why, yes... Yes our unit could!
I didn’t say it was impossible, just difficult. However, the more times you are exposed the greater the chances.
People ignore the handrails, door handles, elevator buttons, and myriad other mutual and public contact surfaces the virus can be transmitted to--and from. From there, a scratch, rub your eye, touch your mouth, and you are infected.
The chief reason Ebola hasn't made it to the first world is geography. The reservoir species don't live here.
There, the infection may be attributed to transmission by contact with the body during funerals, but here, the infection may be passed on otherwise--something which could be masked by the funerary procedures there.
With a variable incubation period (2 to 21 days) attribution is something that may be a wee bit harder to nail down.
So, next time you use a handrail, watch to see if the person in front of you wiped sweat off their brow before touching it...because that is the level of awareness you will need to avoid it if it gets loose here, and even that is no guarantee.
Was it a Tom Clancy book that wrote about harvesting the Ebola virus in some nun who was effected then spreading it worldwide via canisters? I swear I remember reading this book.
Level 3 biohazard suits would be just as good and a lot less expensive.
Yep, living test tubes. Good thinking.
I believe it was “Debt of Honor” that happened in, turning Ebola into an air spreadable weapon
Viruses that spread by direct contact with secretions and are not transmitted via a pneumonic vector do not become epidemic but remain endemic. Despite all the fears HIV remained confined to homosexual men, iv drug abusers and women who had sex with infected men or gave birth after being infected. Usually these viruses do not widely affect first world countries with good hygiene that experience a freezing winter. However there are pockets in first world countries of humans concentration that mimic African living conditions and practices. For instance the refugee centers in the southwest have close quarters and very poor hygeine in a very warm environment.There are similar refugee centers in Europe. So far there is no evidence that ebola has infected any of those centers.
That and other things I understand are problems in horrifically poor countries like Sierra Leone and Liberia like reusing needles, not have enough clean hot water and disinfectant, some of the local medical staff not having proper training and a good understanding of dealing with biohazards. That and I read that the so called isolation wards in some of these African hospitals are little more than cinder block buildings with no AC or contained ventilation systems. Imagine wearing a level 3 biohazard suit in sweltering heat and humidity.
Also the medical personnel they do have are in very short supply and overworked leading to the mistakes and sloppiness that comes from exhaustion.
I dont think robotics have gotten to the point they could give the proper intensive care necessary to treat critically ill patients and are not a cost effective solution. But perhaps one day.
Time will tell.
In the meantime, I am preparing.
The virus can be transmitted in the sweat of the victim.
"Bodily fluids" is something we have been conditioned to think of as blood, feces, semen, but in this case includes sweat, tears, saliva, and urine as well. These contain significant enough viral loads for infection.
Now, if you will, consider the number of surfaces in an urban environment (first world) where people casually make contact with the emanations of others, whether they realize it or not. Door handles, handrails, countertops come to mind immediately, and these are the sort of surfaces which could have the still infectious virii present.
This doesn't have to be airborne, it can be aerosolized by a sneeze.
Try that out on the subway. The virus doesn't care how technologically advanced you are, or what your country's GDP is, it is a virus and will do what viruses do--replicate at the expense of the host.
I'm not trying to panic anyone, just make sure people know this is a dangerous pathogen and more readily contracted than people apparently assume.
BTW, the virus survives indefinitely at -70C.
As far as the American Southwest goes, in the absence of infected individuals or the migratory fruit bats that are the vector, I wouldn't expect any cases of Ebola. The pathogen has to be present to have infection.
In the event the pathogen is introduced, by whatever means, to the western hemisphere, expect different results.
According to news reports it lives nearly a month on hard surfaces.
Truth be told, I think this is spreading mainly because despite exposure to Western society and technology, they are still suspicious of us. Which means that they might at some point refuse normal medicine and any other intervention. It’s a complete miserable situation.
Just think of the jobs that could be created having people clean the subways and other areas on a constant basis. I think in a perverse way, Ebola will help re-employ Americans.
Good idea; I for one plan on buying plenty of water and a double lock. Throw in a gun (that later) and I’m going to be set.
“Growing concerns over ‘in the air’ transmission of Ebola”
You’ve apparently missed this one.
The Nature article is here:
What are we going to do, start letting in Africans who are infected with Ebola because of some sense of not wanting them to feel fear? Ebola either way is 90% a death sentence and there is little to no way that Africa has the resources to even set up a proper facility that will end up having proper containment, much less effective treatment.
We CANNOT and MUST NOT let them come here for treatment, that will be tantamount to infecting the entire US! One way or another they’ll need to be treated and better there than here!
“The disease will simply run its course since there is no effective cure.”
How many people are going to die as the disease spreads? I wish we could have qualified personnel, but regrettably it could well be that if we are going to send people in, we should send people who have the talent to operate at a distance.
We are ‘protected’ by complete idiots.
Cooler temps preserve the virus.
The ‘cooler’ months in Africa are usually the ones that are dry as well.
I’m concerned that the current epidemic infection rate seems to go exponential right around the time of their rainy season. Also known as mosquito season.
ATM keyboards, credit card devices at checkout counters, shopping cart handles, gas pump handles, goods on supermarket shelves if someone sneezes on them, like boxes and cans, clothing someone might have tried on in a department store, bathroom fixtures, MONEY.
People need to think about all the things they touch while out in public that everyone else can lay their hands on or sneeze or cough (or spit) on.
I carry nitrile gloves in my vehicle and am starting to us gardening gloves for pumping gas.
The cooler months in Africa are usually the ones that are dry as well.
*Cooler* temps in Africa is not a Central NY winter temp of below 30 for weeks on end.
What is the effect of COLD on the virus, do you know?
Preserved indefinitely at -70.
Hot (160F) for 20-30m kills it though.
Interesting that the paper notes the transmission from pigs ( apparently from aersolized nasal secretions to macaque monkeys but not between the monkeys themselves. This is consistent with the observation that this disease or virus is not transmitted via aerosol infected secretions between humans.That is not to say that the US should be bringing infected people here for ineffective treatment or knowingly allow infected people to visit or immigrate.