In November 1998, NEC has presented a new software package to the market, especially designed to assist physicians and medical students in learning how to deal with sudden cases of emergency. The programme, that is referred to as CritiControl, is produced to smoothly run on any personal computer and includes all the aspects of lifesaving treatment. The German publisher Springer-Verlag is distributing the multi-language software version in English, French and German. The programme is for sale in 22 different European countries.
CritiControl introduces the student or the doctor into a virtual reality medical world in which the trainee has the opportunity to practise as often as needed the various standard casualty diagnoses and prognoses. In this way, the user gets familiar with the appropriate course of action to be followed in case a wrong prescription has been administered to the patient. The trainee also learns how to properly react whenever a delay in treatment should occur. In order to make the scenery as real as possible, the system hosts a collection of 1500 medical images, including X-rays and Computed Tomography (CT) scans.
The software package is based on a genuine physiological model, developed by Professor Emeritus Guyton, who may be considered as an expert in the field of circulatory physiology. Several universities all over the world have been involved in the testing and validation of the programme for authentic clinical use. Among the academic specialists in emergency care who have positively rated CritiControl for its user-friendliness and its high capability to accurately reproduce changes in a patient's medical condition, are teams from Harvard University in the USA, Osaka University in Japan, the Free University in Belgium and Saarland University in Germany.
In order to form a reliable and complete diagnosis for an emergency case, the trainee has to observe both the various data and the simulated monitors of the casualty patient while also measuring the respiration rates and the blood pressure. In this way, the user is able to analyse the information and to give instructions for medical treatment by means of the CritiControl features. The programme each minute automatically calculates the smallest physiological or clinical change in the patient's condition, including the blood flow to the brain and the circulation. As a result, the trainee is offered a clear insight in the pathological causes of all minor fluctuations in the patient's physical state.
The software provides an authoring system which allows the trainee to create his own personal records of clinical conditions. The user is able to generate no less than 10.000 different cases. He only has to choose a condition, like for instance acute heart failure or haemorrhage, and to indicate the degree of seriousness. Even the time it takes to bring the patient to the hospital by ambulance can be introduced, as well as a history of medical states in order to properly handle a broad range of emergency incidents. CritiControl, as such, presents an effective and useful tool for the health professional.
For the medical student, it is often difficult to build up sufficient experience with relevant emergency cases in order to practise the necessary clinical skills. CritiControl assists the student in collecting a clinical repertory of emergency situations in which he can learn to produce a correct diagnosis and gain a deeper knowledge in all sorts of physiological conditions. From the year 2000, some universities will start to integrate courses on emergency clinical treatment in their curriculum, which will be compulsory for every medical student.