Research on Breathing Conducted at Shore Health System

Richard Wales, BS, RRT, Manager of cardiovascular and pulmonary services for Shore Health System, is actively involved in research that helps improve patient safety, locally and around the world.

Wales, who has been involved in three major research projects in the past two years, has presented his findings to researchers, scientists and physicians at international conferences since 2007. He is preparing for international congresses scheduled for the spring of 2009.

In December of 2007, Wales completed research on methods to recognize breathing disorders. Key to this study was an analysis of 20 independent projects. In his study, Wales evaluated devices used to determine cessation of breathing across all health environments, including emergency medical services. The results of the study identified a specific medical tool that can be utilized across all patient populations and environments to monitor ventilation, known as the fifth vital sign. Wales’ study indicated that a product manufactured by Oridion Capnography could be applied to all patients, including those that enter the healthcare system through the emergency room.

His study, which was presented at the American Association for Respiratory Care during its international congress in Orlando, Florida in 2007, has generated worldwide interest. As a result, Wales was invited to a recent think tank with physicians and scientists from Harvard Medical School, University of Alabama – Birmingham, Medical College of Georgia, Memorial Health University Medical Center in Savannah, Georgia, DEBORAH Heart and Lung, and from Jerusalem, Israel. This group is investigating the use of new discoveries to improve patient care.

During 2008, through the Regional Sleep Disorders Center located at The Memorial Hospital at Easton, Wales worked with polysomnographer Douglas Rousseau, MAT, RRT, RPSGT and Peter Whitesell, MD, a specialist in pulmonology and sleep medicine, to study pressure measurements created during breathing while patients slept. This study indicated that a simple calibration on a pressure transducer captured all breaths while using a “Smart” filter line, the SmartCapnoline Plus by Oridion. This filter line captures exhaled breathing gases and flows them to a device that measures carbon dioxide. The novel application of this technology provides additional information related to the patients’ breathing flow patterns. This is important when seeking information related to breathing in patients at risk for obstructive sleep apnea. The study will be submitted to an international medical conference in the spring of 2009.

Wales is currently conducting research that evaluates the interactions between the heart and lungs. This study, which began with computer generated human data, has evolved into a real device which is undergoing clinical trials in Israel and is pending FDA clearance in the US. The results of this research were presented to the American Society of Anesthesiology in October. This research, which involved more than 30 multinational scientists and physicians, may result in a new measure to warn medical professionals of breathing disorders well before these problems become critical and life-threatening.

The studies Wales conduct do not require any invasive techniques. Rather, the studies measure the air being exhaled from the body and use a simple finger sensor that attaches like a Band-Aid to measure the body’s oxygen levels.

Wales, a resident of Denton, is a graduate of Salibury University and a Registered Respiratory Therapist.