When patients come into Hamilton Medical Center's critical care unit, they are often dealing with multiple organ failures and need close attention from the nurses and doctors who staff the unit.
And new technology, adopted just last week by the hospital, allows them to better able give that close care.
"We don't have to monitor the machine as closely, so we can focus more on the patient," said Brandy Salazar, clinical nurse manager at Hamilton Medical Center.
PrisMax is a new type of continuous renal replacement therapy approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just last week. Hamilton started using it last week, making it the first hospital in the nation to use the machine, said Dr. Elwyn Clark, Hamilton's medical director of critical care.
"Continuous renal replacement therapy is for patients who typically have injuries to or problems with their kidneys but are too sick to undergo regular dialysis," he said. "This is a therapy that can take that three or three and a half hours of dialysis and spread it out over 24 hours, so it's much more gentle on the patient."
Continuous renal replacement therapy has been around for a while. Like dialysis it removes waste and excess fluids from the patient's blood.
But the new machine is different from previous devices, Clark says.
"Now, we have even more control over how fast or slow the process is," he said. "It gives us more accurate measurements."
Clark says the machine will help the hospital provide better care for patients and help it keep patients near their homes and families.
"The patients we take care of in intensive care are often suffering from multiple system failures, meaning their lungs are failing, their hearts are failing, their kidneys are failing. It can be because of injury or infection or a heart attack, whatever reason," he said. "This technology allows us to keep these patients who previously would have been too sick for this hospital, allowing us to take care of them close to their families and support systems. There will always be patients who need a very high level of care, but this technology will allow us to keep as many patients as possible close to their families."
Salazar says the feedback from nurses has been overwhelmingly positive.
"We had two patients on the machine over the weekend," she said. "And all of the nurses say it has allowed them to spend more time at the bedside taking care of the patient and less time focused on the machine itself."
Jennifer Ward, a critical care nurse educator at the hospital, says the support that Baxter International, the company that makes the machine, has given to the hospital has been key to the device's success.
"That has allowed us to be very competent in the use of the machine," she said. "This is where we live. This is where we want to continue our nursing careers, so we want to be able to provide the best possible care for our community members."
Salazar says the hospital has "been continuously working with Baxter on this for a while because we wanted to bring the latest technology to patients in north Georgia as soon as possible."
"When we learned that the new technology was about to come out, we got the process started to order as soon as they were available," she said. "Because we continued to work with Baxter while the PrisMax was pending with the FDA, we were able to get the first order."