YOUR HEALTH: A better way to measure mom’s safety during childbirth

NEW YORK – First-time mom, Diana Romano loves spending every moment possible with ten-month old Leo.

Diana had a normal, healthy pregnancy, staying on the job as a doctor until right before Leo was due.

"When I went to my 39 week visit I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, so they decided to bring me in that night to be induced."

Diana had a smooth delivery with no complications.   She said that's the expectation as most women go into the delivery room.

"The majority of the time things go beautifully, but sometimes things can get scary."

In the United States, 700 women die every year from labor and delivery complications.

Three percent of all women experience a dangerous hemorrhage during or after labor and delivery.  It's not always easy to tell if a woman is in danger.

"The traditional way of monitoring blood loss is done by visual inspection, meaning we essentially look at the saturated pads and the operative field and make an estimate with our best guess what the blood loss is," explained Mt. Sinai Hospital  obstetric anesthesiologist Dr. Daniel Katz.

Now a cutting edge system called the Triton is taking the guess work out by using an app to analyze the amount of blood on surgical sponges and equipment.

Doctors or nurses calibrate the system using a barcode.   Then they hold up sponges and pads in front of the computer or I-pad camera.

"It will take pictures of surgical sponges and canisters and measure how much hemoglobin is on them," said Dr. Katz.

The system tallies how much blood is lost.

Doctors decide in real time if a patient needs additional treatment or even a transfusion.

It's a digital eye that Dr. Katz says helps even the most experienced obstetrician and their patients.

SOLUTION:    The Triton system adds all the volumes together and keeps a running tally of the total amount of blood that has been lost.   Each hospital has a different threshold on how much blood equals a hemorrhage.  It's usually between 60 to 1,000 milliliters of blood depending on the type of delivery.   This technology can sense very small differences in blood volumes that human eyes can't.   Those small amounts can be the difference between a smooth delivery and a hemorrhage.

Dr. Katz says for anything that can't be scanned by the app, they use a bluetooth-enabled smart scale.

If a doctor types in the surgical tools that are being weighed, the computer can calculate blood loss that way.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.