Vital Signs Information Representation (VITAL)

The Technical Committee for Medical Informatics, TC251 of the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) has established a project team (CEN/TC251/PT5-021) to standardise the representation of digitized biomedical signals, measurements, events and alarms which are called vital signs in this context. The intended application areas of this standard proposal are found in the equipment used in intensive care, anaesthesia, neurophysiological measurement laboratories, sleep laboratories etc. The long-term goal in this work is to enable interoperability between the real time computer systems of different manufacturers also in time critical applications in hospitals, i.e. plug and play.

The leader of the project team is Christoph Zywietz from Hannover Medical School in Germany, E-mail: czywietz@Biosignal.MH-Hannover.DE The experts of the project team represent industry, hospitals and research organizations. The work began in May 1994 and the final report is expected by the end of December 1997.

The prefinal version (October 1997) of the standard proposal can be downloaded via ftp from sigftp.cs.tut.fi from the directory /pub/eeg-data/standards. The files are zip archive files of Microsoft Word 6.0 documents. The main document contains an introduction, the domain information model, object descriptions and the conformance statement. Annex A contains tables of codes given to different measurements, events, units of measurements, body site locations etc. The informative Annexes B to E contain application scenarios of the standard and a communication example which applies the standard.

Earlier versions of the specification are available in the abovementioned ftp-directory, as well. The Interim Report (ir.exe, around 160 pages) is the first public version and the First Working Document was published in winter 1996.

In parallel with the preparation of this standard proposal there has been work going of for the design of a file exhange format for vital signs, i.e. a static representation (e.g. on a floppy or CD-ROM) of the measurements and events of the real-time situation where the VITAL definitions are used. Interested persons are requested to obtain the document and comment it through the WWW page http://www.cs.tut.fi/~varri/fef.html.

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Alpo Värri

Signal Processing Laboratory, Tampere University of Technology, P.O. Box 553, FIN-33101 Tampere, Finland
Tel. +358-3-3652575, Fax. +358-3-3653857, E-mail: varri@cs.tut.fi.