Rotating Bed Credited With Saving Lives

Bed Helps Alleviate Pressure On Lungs

A high-tech, rotating bed already saving lives at Indiana hospitals could be critical in the fight against the H1N1 flu.

Hendricks Regional, Methodist and St. Vincent hospitals are using the RotoProne bed, a complex contraption that helps alleviate lung pressure and restore normal breathing, 6News' Stacia Matthews reported.

Patients whose lungs have become filled with fluid are put into a medically induced coma and then securely strapped and buckled into the bed from head to toe. As the bed gently rocks back and forth, fluid is able to drain, which helps reduce pressure on the lungs.

"They are constantly in motion," said Dr. Jeremy Kirk with the Intensive Care Unit at Hendricks Regional Hospital. "This allows us to maybe treat and keep the patient stable for a couple of days so we can get some of those medicines working."

The therapy can last for days and sometimes weeks.

Julie Foster was in the RotoProne bed for four days after developing acute respiratory distress syndrome, or ARDS, after a bout with bronchitis. Her lungs became inflamed, filled with fluid and cut off oxygen.

"I couldn't breathe. I was unable to lay down … They told my family I had a 30 percent chance of survival," Foster said. "I thank God that they were able to get this bed in here to put me in it, because, otherwise, I probably wouldn't have lived through it."

ARDS is also a potentially deadly complication of the H1N1 flu virus. Doctors at Hendricks Regional Hospital began treating critically ill H1N1 patients with the bed this fall and credit the device with saving three lives.

Previously, ARDS patients would have to be manually put in a prone position and constantly monitored and rotated by hospital staff.