UCLA medical student develops, markets communication board for intubated patients

Over the years, UCLA Medical Center nurse Lance Patak cared for too many critically ill patients who couldn't communicate their needs due to the endotracheal tubes that went through their vocal cords, making speech impossible. So he developed an easy-to-use augmentative communication board that intubated patients could use to make their needs known to their caregivers and family members with a simple mark of a felt-tipped pen.

Over the past five years the E-Z Board has proven such a hot item in hospitals that Patak has just begun actively looking for distributors.

The lightweight, flexible E-Z Board is organized so that the patient can easily inform the caregiver of all of his or her conceivable needs. For example, the patient can communicate thirst, cold, hunger, anger, or pain; wants to sit up, a pillow, to exercise, or a blanket; needs someone to clean his or her mouth or face; or simply wants to say "thank you." All require no more effort on the patient's part than marking a box next to the appropriate selection with an attached wet-erase marker.

Both patient and caregiver benefit as a result.

"You cannot treat a patient based on objective data alone," says Patak, now a third-year medical student at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "To leave a patient unable to communicate effectively at such a critical time is not only negligent, but is unkind and not grounded in medical practice. We cannot treat a patient solely on objective findings. We have to obtain subjective information from the patient whenever possible."

Patak, 32, first came up with the concept in 1998, when he was a nursing assistant at the UCLA Medical Center while studying at the California State University at Los Angeles School of Nursing, and was caring for two lung transplant patients who couldn't communicate with their care providers or family over a period of eleven months while in the intensive care unit. Generally, patients such as th

Contact: Enrique Rivero
University of California - Los Angeles

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