Funding boost for state-of-the-art maternity monitoring system

Clinicians in Southampton have received £220,000 of funding to install ten additional state-of-the-art computer systems to monitor the health of women and babies during the birthing process.

The technology, known as the Guardian and developed by K2 Medical Systems, provides continuous analysis of a baby’s heart rate immediately before and during birth.

The data is collected via sensors and automatically uploaded to a secure portal where it is made available to midwives and doctors at the Princess Anne Hospital outside of the delivery room at any time.

Conventional monitoring occurs only within the delivery room and it is up to the clinician at the bedside to involve other senior staff at their discretion.

In addition to alerting clinicians early to situations where additional support or intervention is needed, it means staff can minimise interruptions for women during their labour.

The information is also securely accessible in real-time to midwives and consultants anywhere in the world via PC, laptop, smartphone or tablet devices.

The unit currently has four Guardian systems which cover 14 labour wards, so the additional monitors – funded by the NHS Litigation Authority – will ensure the system is available permanently in each ward.

Jillian Connor, a consultant obstetrician at the Princess Anne Hospital, said: “While most pregnancies are happy, healthy events, some women or babies experience problems, meaning it is vital to monitor their heart rate patterns continuously throughout the labour to ensure their safety.

“This pattern can be difficult to interpret, so the K2 Guardian system allows it to be viewed and analysed by senior midwives and doctors outside of the delivery room.”

She added: “As a regional centre for fetal medicine and many specialist paediatric services, we often care for women in labour from other units where a problem with the baby has been detected antenatally.

“The Guardian system will help us to provide close monitoring of these babies in complex and high risk labours.”

Midwife Lisa Relton added: “The benefit of having K2 monitors as a labour ward coordinator is that we can observe several fetal heart traces all at one time and that is not only reassuring for the midwife in the room but also the ladies we care for.

“It means we can look at the trace from a central point rather than disturbing women regularly, so is of great benefit to those women who are in pain or are sleep deprived.”

Posted on Tuesday 23 June 2015