In a recent filing with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Google has gained a patent to deliver emergency medical services using Unmanned aerial vehicles — drones. Basically turning a drone into a flying ambulance.
Some of the key highlights of the patent include the ability to do the following:
Telemedicine: Ability for emergency professionals to give medical advice through the drone.
Medical devices: Dropping off critical items, such as an EpiPen, ECG, first aid kit, pulse oximetry, blood pressure cuff, defibrillator, and other items.
Defibrillator: Instead of just dropping off a defibrillator, the drone itself could function as a mobile defibrillator.
From the patent:
As another example of a UAV with an integrated medical-support device, a UAV 500 might function as a mobile defibrillator. Specifically, rather than carry a stand-alone defibrillator that can then be removed from the UAV for use, the UAV itself may function as a defibrillator.
As a physician, there are two specific uses for medical drones that could be tremendous — providing EpiPens and the defibrillator function.
EpiPens counter life threatening anaphylaxis reactions that often happen outside. I have dealt with numerous young adults with bee stings that result in anaphylaxis reactions and come into the ER about to lose their airway but quickly get reversed with Epinephrine. If they were in a very remote region, the chance of survival would have been small.
Data has shown defibrillators save lives, and the inability to access them and use them appropriately causes increased morbidity and mortality. Defibrillators are often most useful immediately after a cardiac event (e.g. Heart attack) when a shockable rhythm such as ventricular fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia is present. Delivering a defibrillator to someone who is in one of these rhythms could definitely save a life.
Another useful feature I didn’t see mentioned in the patent was management for acute dehydration, via intravenous therapy or even oral rehydration.