Professor Elizabeth Peter is co-principal investigator on major CIHR award

1 October 2020

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Circulatory and Respiratory Health announced research project funding decisions in September 2020. Bloomberg Nursing Professor Elizabeth Peter is a co-principal investigator on the successful application led by Dr. Michael McGillion of McMaster University. Dr. Thomas Doyle and Dr. Donald Scott, both of McMaster University, are also co-principal investigators on the study, “Vascular events In noncardiac Surgery patIents cOhort evaluatioN study-2 (VISION-2)”. This award garnered $673,200 over 2 years.

Over 10% of all patients who have surgery (aged 45 and above) will suffer a major complication and over 1.5% of all adults will die within 30 days after surgery. The most common major complications include injury to the heart muscle, bleeding, and infection. Healthcare professionals need better ways of monitoring patients in order to identify if patients will develop complications in order to prevent complications from occurring. 

Throughout the study, the researchers will use a new monitoring device called Vitaliti — a lightweight device worn around the neck that can monitor patients’ vital signs and heartbeat continually, while they go about their day. 

A total of 1,000 patients aged 45 years and older who have surgery (not including heart surgery), and who are at risk for serious complications will wear the Vitaliti device on the surgical ward until they are released from hospital. Researchers use a blood test prior to surgery to identify which patients are at risk of developing complications. 

When patients wear the Vitaliti device, it will send constant readings of their vital signs and heartbeat to the hospital monitoring centre. Artificial intelligence – called machine learning – will read these reports. Researchers will look for slight changes in vital signs that may lead to heart muscle injury, bleeding and infection. Once these signs are identified, researchers can then develop an alert system to warn healthcare providers before emergencies take place. 

Dr. Peter’s primary role in this research is to explore the ethical implications of the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict these complications by exploring the perspectives of healthcare professionals, policy makers, and patients. Bloomberg Nursing Professor Kelly Metcalfe and Associate Professor Monica Parry are co-investigators on this study.