Goggles Give Docs All-Seeing Power

Patients and their crises come and go non-stop at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

So anesthesiologist Paul St. Jacques somehow has to keep up with four operating rooms at once -- good thing he can see through walls.

Anesthesiologists here routinely are responsible for four operating rooms at once.

Only now, as CBS News Correspondent Mark Strassmann reports, St. Jacques literally can keep an eye on all of them at the same time.

Attached to his goggles is a tiny screen, about the size of a fingernail, and there's a video-panel from each of the four on-going surgeries, real-time images of his patients and their vital signs.

If anything goes wrong, St Jacques instantly gets the word and is on his way.

"Without the system you really can be in only one place at a time," says St. Jacques. "With the system active you really can be in four places at a time."

He and another anesthesiologist developed this pilot program because they were frustrated they couldn't be everywhere at once.

"You may actually be monitoring anywhere from 4-to-15 patients at one time," says Dr. Michael Higgins. "In any one of those situations something can happen to a patient."

To help keep it all straight, St. Jacques also has -- literally at his fingertips -- information he can instantly flash before his eye: surgery schedules, medical charts, patient histories, anything.

"Rather than having to walk to the nearest computer or find the nearest computer, you're wearing the nearest computer," he says.

It's a heads-up display on a couple levels, not only time saving, but potentially lifesaving.

With this system, St. Jacque now can anticipate problems rather than react to them.

He often arrives just as an O.R. nurse is about to call him.

It's X-ray vision in a white smock.

Finally, a doctor that not only thinks he's Superman, but one who acts like him.