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Telemedicine can be life-saving

(August18, 2013)

On a late November afternoon, Bonnie McLeod lay in Matagorda Regional Medical Center, unable to move her left side.

Nurses at the hospital weren't clear on what had happened to the 69-year-old woman. They needed a second opinion, quickly. A page was sent out for neurologist Dr. Teddy Wu, who was in his office at Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center, 80 miles away. But a few minutes later, with the flip of a switch, he appeared at the foot of McLeod's bed.

He began examining her, asking her to try and raise her arms among a series of other questions. Before long, Wu had arrived at a diagnosis: McLeod had suffered a stroke, and needed to be flown immediately to Memorial Hermann for surgery.

Wu made his diagnosis and recommended treatment remotely through the hospital's telemedicine program, which allowed him to examine McLeod from Houston through real-time video conferencing. The computer technology not only let him communicate with McLeod, but also allowed him to examine radiology imaging of her brain.

Operated by the Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann Hospital, the telemedicine program offers 24/7 expertise across the region to patients suffering from acute strokes and neurological conditions who would otherwise have little access to proper care.

Read the Chronicle's story on Telemedicine