Death Algorithm Developed In Japan

How much time do you have left? Japanese researchers have developed an algorithm that can be used by emergency operators to determine just how long a caller has left.

Kenji Ohshige and fellow researchers at Yokohama University crunched through six months of call data from a Yokohama ambulance service. They correlated factors like "breathing status" and "consciousness level" with the end result of the call. Was the person found dead by medics? Or did the patient make it to the hospital?

There are several challenges for developing a more improved triage algorithm. The algorithm to assess a patient’s life threat risk can be improved with the data obtained under the new emergency medical services system, in which information obtained during emergency calls is recorded as digital data. Although the coefficients of explanatory variables shown [...] were estimated from limited sample data, data of more than 120,000 triaged cases per year should contribute to the development of an accurate triage algorithm. The variables used as explanatory variables in the logistic model were derived from data sought from callers by call workers, for instance, ‘how is his consciousness?’ Under an emergency situation, the number of such questions is inevitably limited. Patient’s age, consciousness level, breathing status, walking ability, position, and complexion were selected as data that a call worker should seek in the interview protocol. There may be factors for assessing the life threat risk other than the variables used in the current algorithm. If other indicative factors are found in the future, they should be part of the interview protocol and should be included as explanatory variables in the model.

Perhaps those medical alert medallions that seniors sometimes wear in their homes could be modified to display a color based on how they were doing, using this kind of an algorithm. If so, you'd have a palm flower like the one described in William Nolan's 1967 novel Logan's Run.

"Show me your hand, Logan," said the psyc doctor.

Logan obeyed.

"Do you know why you have this?" he said, tapping the palmflower with an index finger.

"To tell my age," said Logan.

Strictly speaking, the palm flower is really just a counting device; in the world of 2116, a person's maximum age is set, by legislation, at 21 years. The embedded palm flower turns black on Lastday.

Thanks to Moira for picking up on this story and reference; via The Register - see also their research paper Evaluation of an algorithm for estimating a patient's life threat risk from an ambulance call.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/29/2009)

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