Skin-Colored Hospital Gowns Could Be Used to Track a Patient's Health

A research team led by Mark Changizi of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute proposes that hospital patients be given gowns that match their skin color when they're admitted. Changes in that color during the stay, contrasted by the gown as a constant, could alert caregivers to a decline in patient health:

Human eyes evolved to see in color largely for the purpose of detecting skin color changes such as when other people blush, Changizi said. These emotive skin color changes are extremely apparent because humans are hard-wired to notice them, and because the background skin color remains unchanged. The contrast against the nearby "baseline" skin color is what makes blushes so noticeable, he said.

Human skin also changes color as a result of hundreds of different medical conditions. Pale skin, yellow skin, and cyanosis – a potentially serious condition of bluish discoloration of the skin, lips, nails, and mucous membranes due to lack of oxygen in the blood – are common symptoms. These color changes often go unnoticed, however, because they often involve a fairly universal shift in skin color, Changizi said. The observer in most instances will just assume the patient's current skin color is the baseline color. The challenge is that there is no color contrast against the baseline for the observer to pick up on, as the baseline skin color has changed altogether.

Link via Digg | Photo: CDC

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The problem with this concept is that a person's skin is rarely the same color from head to toe. I mean, take a look at yourself: is your butt the exact same shade of fuchsia (or whatever) as the back of your neck?

A better approach is to snap a full-scale photo of the patient's nude body and print the result onto a perfectly form-fitting gown, with optional holes for eyes/nose/mouth/unmentionables. That way you can monitor changes over the entire surface of the patient's skin while keeping his dignity intact.
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Wouldn't a color patch on the ID wristband you already have to wear be a lot more convenient and cheaper????

They could ink-jet print out the bands and use a digital photo.

.....there I just gave out a million $ idea for free, give me my surgery comp'ed.....
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Imagine how many of these they'd have to keep on hand, just to have the precise, medically-reliable color of every possible patient.

Better to just make a colored tag by computer, and hang it about their neck.
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