Thursday, June 21, 2012
OU doctoral student earns prestigious AAMI scholarship
By Eric Reikowski, media relations assistant
|Avinash Konkani received a prestigious scholarship from the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation for his work to reduce noise levels in a pediatric intensive care unit.
Avinash Konkani is one of just two students nationwide to receive the 2012 Michael J. Miller Scholarship from the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) Foundation. Pursuing a doctorate in Oakland University’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Konkani hopes for a career as a human factors specialist in a hospital or in the medical device industry.
Since arriving at Oakland, Konkani has collaborated with OU engineering professor Dr. Barbara Oakley on efforts to reduce noise levels in the pediatric intensive care unit at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. The project is funded through an OU-Beaumont Multidisciplinary Research Award and aims to improve the quality of patient care.
“Patients in intensive care units typically are surrounded by a lot of noise, such as false alarms from medical devices and sound produced by staff and visitors,” Konkani explained. “By finding ways to reduce the noise and number of false alarms, we can create a better environment for the patients, as well as the clinicians.”
These efforts have already made an impact, helping spur development of a behavioral modification program that enables hospital employees to better understand the physiological effects of noise on patients and health professionals.
“It all comes down to patient safety and occupational safety,” Konkani said. “Increased noise levels can lead to distraction, which raises the potential for human error. Part of what I want to do as a human factors engineer is to make medical technology more user-friendly to further reduce the risk of mistakes.”
Konkani’s research is the subject of an article co-authored with Dr. Oakley in the Journal of Critical Care and was also presented during a research festival sponsored by the Oakland University Center for Biomedical Research and Sigma Xi chapter. A follow up article on device alarm management will be published in Biomedical Instrumentation & Technology, AAMI’s own peer-reviewed journal.
“This is the type of work expected of a senior researcher at the top of his game,” Dr. Oakley explained, “and it is all on top of Avinash’s regular doctoral research, which is being conducted in conjunction with the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine under a proposal that was Avinash’s original idea. It’s rare to find a doctoral student with the kind of initiative, creativity and industriousness that Avinash continuously displays.”
Konkani received his $2,500 scholarship in early June at the AAMI National Conference and Expo held in Charlotte, North Carolina.