Are current wireless monitoring systems capable of detecting adverse events in high-risk surgical patients? A descriptive study

Martine J M Breteler*, Eline KleinJan, Lieke Numan, Jelle P Ruurda, Richard Van Hillegersberg, Luke P H Leenen, Mathilde Hermans, Cor J Kalkman, Taco J Blokhuis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Adverse events are common in high-risk surgical patients, but early detection is difficult. Recent innovations have resulted in wireless and 'wearable' sensors, which may capture patient deterioration at an early stage, but little is known regarding their ability to timely detect events. The objective of this study is to describe the ability of currently available wireless sensors to detect adverse events in high-risk patients.

METHODS: A descriptive analysis was performed of all vital signs trend data obtained during an observational comparison study of wearable sensors for vital signs monitoring in high-risk surgical patients during the initial days of recovery at a surgical step-down unit (SDU) and subsequent traumatology or surgical oncology ward. Heart rate (HR), respiratory rate (RR) and oxygen saturation (SpO2) were continuously recorded. Vital sign trend patterns of patients that developed adverse events were described and compared to vital sign recordings of patients without occurrence of adverse events. Two wearable patch sensors were used (SensiumVitals and HealthPatch), a bed-based mattress sensor (EarlySense) and a patient-worn monitor (Masimo Radius-7).

RESULTS: Twenty adverse events occurred in 11 of the 31 patients included. Atrial fibrillation (AF) was most common (20%). The onset of AF was recognizable as a sudden increase in HR in all recordings, and all patients with new-onset AF after esophagectomy developed other postoperative complications. Patients who developed respiratory insufficiency showed an increase in RR and a decrease in SpO2, but an increase in HR was not always visible. In patients without adverse events, temporary periods of high HR and RR are observed as well, but these were transient and less frequent.

CONCLUSIONS: Current systems for remote wireless patient monitoring on the ward are capable of detecting abnormalities in vital sign patterns in patients who develop adverse events. Remote patient monitoring may have potential to improve patient safety by generating early warnings for deterioration to nursing staff.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S97-S105
Number of pages9
JournalInjury-International Journal of the Care of the Injured
Early online date17 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • Remote patient monitoring
  • Telemedicine
  • Vital signs
  • Wearable monitoring
  • mHealth


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