Palomar Health announced the opening of a state-of-the-art, 24-hour Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU).
At Palomar Medical Center’s new EMU, patients are observed around the clock by clinical staff through closed circuit video and EEG (brain wave) telemetry. These tools help epileptologists—neurologists with special training in epilepsy— analyze where the seizures are taking place and how frequently to help patients live safer, healthier lives.
“Our hospital’s EMU is unique in its 24-hour continuous monitoring,” says Tracy Wang, M.D., neurologist/epileptologist at Palomar Medical Center. “Highly trained registered EEG staff remotely monitor the patients to provide timely feedback to nurses and caretakers. This helps ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.”
Epilepsy is a debilitating disorder where clusters of nerve cells, or neurons, in the brain sometimes signal abnormally—resulting in convulsions, muscle spasms, or loss of consciousness. People with uncontrolled seizures are unable to participate in activities that could put them at risk for injury.
Gradual withdrawal of antiepileptic drugs is often necessary to experience seizures, making it important for patients to be monitored in a safe hospital setting. The average length of hospitalization is 3-5 days.
“It’s good to have family or friends stay with the patient while they’re in the EMU, not only for companionship, but also because it creates an extra layer of comfort and safety,” says Rae Anne Watson, R.N., director of progressive and acute care at Palomar Medical Center.
As a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, Palomar Health was able to collaborate and model its new EMU after the one at Mayo Clinic, which has been in place for more than 10 years.
“Using a team approach, we have excellent nurses specializing in the care of patients with neurological diseases,” says Wang. “We believe our EMU offers patients the best opportunity for receiving comprehensive and expert evaluation of seizure disorders.”
It’s estimated that 150,000 new epilepsy cases are diagnosed every year. Approximately 30 percent of these patients do not attain adequate seizure control, which can be frightening and life altering.