Surgery In Four Places At Once

Chances are you've met one somewhere: a doctor who thinks he's Superman.

Now meet one who acts like him: Dr. Paul St. Jacques, an anesthesiologist with X-ray vision. CBS News correspondent Mark Strassman reports for The Early Show.

St. Jacques can see through walls: four operating rooms, with an ongoing surgery and patient in each one.

He's the anesthesiologist responsible for all of them.

Attached to his goggles is a tiny video screen, the size of a thumbnail, and there's a panel from each of those four rooms, with live-stream video and vital signs of each patient.

Even from the hallway, he can see the answers to many of his own questions: "Have the patients just come into the room? Are they starting to prep the patient? Are they taking the drapes down when they are all done? Or, certainly, is there anything going on that looks abnormal?"

When something does go wrong, an alert pops up.

At the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, St. Jacques and another anesthesiologist designed new software using existing wireless technology, frustrated they couldn't be everywhere at once.

Does St. Jacques feel more in control?

"Oh, absolutely."

He has a sense of what's going on in all four rooms?

"Yes," he says. "You really can see what is going on in all four rooms at any given time."

It's the kind of technology the rest of us would call "leading edge." Clinicians around the medical center consider it "bleeding edge."

Says Dr. Michael Higgins, an anesthesiologist, "We said, 'Look, let's maximize our opportunity here. Let's take advantage of cutting edge and see if that can solve our problem.'"

St. Jacques also has endless information at his fingertips at the click of a mouse. He doesn't have to look for the nearest computer. He wears it.

He can access any sort of information (surgery schedules, medical charts, patient histories) and he can anticipate rather than just react. He often arrives on the scene just as surgery staff were about to call him. Call it a welcome medical bulletin.

Superman wears goggles, and his blue suit is a smock.