A new app could help doctors detect an opioid overdose by using a smartphone’s speaker and microphone.
The app, called ‘Second Chance,’ uses your phone’s microphone and turns it into a sonar device to measure breathing. A team of researchers from the University of Washington developed the app, which is still in its trial stages.
Engadget — citing two separate January 9th, 2019 articles from the Associated Press and from the MIT Technology Review — reported on January 10th, 2019 that during these trials, researchers saw signs of an overdose within minutes of people injecting themselves with heroin.
According to the Associated Press, researchers specifically tested a supervised injection facility in Vancouver.
The MIT Technology Review reported that the app was tested on 194 participants that used heroin, fentanyl, or morphine.
The app was able to accurately identify apnea — a condition where a person’s breathing halts temporarily — 97.7 percent of the time.
The MIT Technology Review also reported that the app was able to identify slow breathing 89.3 percent of the time — two signs that are indicative of a potential overdose.
Another study published in Science Translational Medicine showed that the app was able to accurately predict potential overdoses 19 out of 20 times under simulated conditions.
The simulation mimicked an operating room where anesthetics were used to imitate the symptoms of overdose.
In Canada, more than 9,000 lives were lost between January 2016 and June 2018 because of opioids, according to Health Canada.
The majority of those deaths occured in British Columbia, Ontario and Alberta.
Health Canada’s research shows that an average 17 people were hospitalized for opioid poisonings in Canada each day in 2017.
Engadget reported that the app has been patented and “plan to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration.” The article noted that the creators hope to get it integrated with emergency services in the U.S.
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