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Hospitals look to computers to predict patient emergencies before they happen

CLEVELAND — Seven floors, and long odds, were stacked against John S. He was undergoing a test on the first floor of a Cleveland Clinic hospital when his nursing team — on the eighth floor — got a call, telling them the 57-year-old had developed a dangerously rapid heartbeat that was spiraling toward cardiac arrest.

It is a predicament that often ends badly. Only about 25 percent of U.S. patients survive when their hearts stop in hospitals. Crucial minutes elapse before help arrives, sometimes because alarms are missed amid the din of beeping monitors.

But the call that day didn’t come from within the hospital. It came from a darkened room in an office park several miles away, where a technician in the clinic’s Central Monitoring Unit (CMU) was watching the patient’s vital signs on a computer monitor and noticed the onset of ventricular tachycardia.

The subsequent emergency response pulled John (not his real

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