Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Can A Bra Interact With A Pacemaker Or Defibrillator?

This comment [with a specific photo] was posted on my blog earlier:

“I was reading one of your old posts about magnets and I was wondering if a magnetic front closure on a bra would be a problem? There’s a warning on the label but I know part of that is just due to liability. What about this bra that has a magnet clasp on the front? If the magnet hits right in between the breasts would it be close enough to the device that it could interfere? Also does having a magnet that close change the settings or turn off a defibrillator/pacemaker early? I’m sure most doctors would say just wear another bra but this bra in particular is very comfy! I’ve tried it on but not worn it for extended periods of time. Luckily this is one of the only major complaints I’ve had about having heart disease and a [medical] device at such a young age.”

First, let me say thank you for asking this question. Who knew research could be so, er, entertaining! Second, this question reinforces why medical blogging is so great: You learn something new every day.

Now, as I slap myself back to a bit more professional stance, I’ll summarize by saying I think you’ll be okay to use such a bra with some precautions. Given the picture and the clasp’s location, this bra is more likely to interfere with the pacemaker of the partner you hug rather than yourself, provided your pacemaker was implanted over three centimeters from the magnetic clasp. Since most pacemakers and defibrillators are implanted just below the collar bone, the chance of the magenetic clasp to interfere with your device is remote. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

Sudden Cardiac Arrest: How Fast Does It Cause Unconsciousness?

How fast does sudden cardiac arrest cause unconsciousness? In just seconds.

Here’s a video of Salamanca soccer player Miguel Garcia’s episode. At the start of the video, Mr. Garcia can be seen in the background of the image kneeling behind the players in the foreground. Watch carefully as he stands after tying his shoes.

Although it is difficult to see, it appears an automatic external defibrillator arrives in about two minutes, though given the fact his shirt is still on as he’s taken from the field, we note the device is on his gurney as he’s hurried to a nearby ambulance. Reportedly, he survived this sudden cardiac arrest event:

This was NOT a heart attack, but rather a loss of cardiac function caused by a rapid, often disorganized heart rhythm disorder. Compare the relatively long time to resuscitation using an external automatic defibrillator verses the very rapid response afforded to Belgian soccer player Anthony Van Loo, whose internal defibrillator was already installed before he played as primary prevention of sudden death from right ventricular dysplasia.

-WesMusings of a cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist.

h/t: Electrophysiology Fellow blog

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

Defibrillator Concept Fun For The Kitchen, Bad For The ER

This clever and funny Toast/e/r (“ER” included in the name) is by designer Shay Carmon. Note the QRS complex grill:

 

Concept page: Toast/e/r…

(via Gizmodo)

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Dr. Insurance Broker

Call it sweet, delicious vindication. It was clinic day yesterday. No longer had I completed my rant in this blog about UnitedHealthcare’s program to require all cardiac elecrophysiologists to obtain a “notification number” before performing any pacemaker or defibrillator procedure, I discovered my letter from them dated June 3, 2010, on my desk stating that this requirement will begin September 1, 2010, for all Illinois electrophysiologists for “all electrophysiology procedures.”

Not longer than an hour later I was seeing a 67-year-old patient in the clinic who asked me: “I just got my Medicare (Part A) card and must decide about which insurer I should use for Part B, C, D, E, and F,” he said jokingly. “Since I have the medical problem and might need some care in the future, is there a company you would recommend?” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

Airplane Medicine: What Happens When You Answer The Flight Attendant’s Call For A Doctor

Rounding at 37,000 Feet

Anyone who has flown long-distance flights has heard the call: “If there is a doctor on board, please identify yourself to a flight attendant.” But it’s impossible to understand how that call induces the urge to flee to the lavatory and hide unless you are one of those unfortunate few who are on the hook, which is to say that you are qualified to respond, but you really really don’t want to.

“But Gee,” I can hear you think, “Aren’t you an ER doctor? Isn’t this sort of thing second nature to you? Don’t you revel in the adrenaline and glory?” Well, yes. But. First of all, there is the performance anxiety thing. I’m used to working with a very small audience. In Economy class, there may be 300 people watching me try to do my thing, and I’m just not used to that many people being in the exam room — and I know they are very interested in what’s going on. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*

Latest Interviews

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

How To Make Inpatient Medical Practice Fun Again: Try Locum Tenens Work

It s no secret that most physicians are unhappy with the way things are going in healthcare. Surveys report high levels of job dissatisfaction burn out and even suicide. In fact some believe that up to a third of the US physician work force is planning to leave the profession…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

Richmond, VA – In an effort to simplify inpatient medical billing, one area hospitalist group has determined that “altered mental status” (ICD-9 780.97) is the most efficient code for use in any patient work up.

“When you enter a hospital, you’re bound to have some kind of mental status change,” said Dr. Fishbinder, co-partner of Area Hospitalists, PLLC. “Whether it’s confusion about where your room is located in relationship to the visitor’s parking structure, frustration with being woken up every hour or two to check your vital signs, or just plain old fatigue from being sick, you are not thinking as clearly as before you were admitted. And that’s all the justification we need to order anything from drug and toxin screens, to blood cultures, brain MRIs, tagged red blood cell nuclear scans, or cardiac Holter monitoring. There really is no limit to what we can pursue with our tests.”

Common causes of mental status changes in the elderly include medicine-induced cognitive side effects, disorientation due to disruption in daily routines, age-related memory impairment, and urinary tract infections.

“The urinalysis is not a very exciting medical test,” stated Dr. Fishbinder. “It doesn’t matter that it’s cheap, fast, and most likely to provide an explanation for strange behavior in hospitalized patients. It’s really not as elegant as the testing involved in a chronic anemia or metabolic encephalopathy work up. I keep it in my back pocket in case all other tests are negative, including brain MRIs and PET scans.”

Nursing staff at Richmond Medical Hospital report that efforts to inform hospitalists about foul smelling urine have generally fallen on deaf ears. “I have tried to tell the hospitalists about cloudy or bloody urine that I see in patients who are undergoing extensive work ups for mental status changes,” reports nurse Sandy Anderson. “But they insist that ‘all urine smells bad’ and it’s really more of a red herring.”

Another nurse reports that delay in diagnosing urinary tract infections (while patients are scheduled for brain MRIs, nuclear scans, and biopsies) can lead to worsening symptoms which accelerate and expand testing. “Some of my patients are transferred to the ICU during the altered mental status work up,” states nurse Anita Misra. “The doctors seem to be very excited about the additional technology available to them in the intensive care setting. Between the central line placement, arterial blood gasses, and vast array of IV fluid and medication options, urosepsis is really an excellent entré into a whole new level of care.”

“As far as medicine-induced mental status changes are concerned,” added Dr. Fishbinder, “We’ve never seen a single case in the past 10 years. Today’s patients are incredibly resilient and can tolerate mixes of opioids, anti-depressants, anti-histamines, and benzodiazepines without any difficulty. We know this because most patients have been prescribed these cocktails and have been taking them for years.”

Patient family members have expressed gratitude for Dr. Fishbinder’s diagnostic process, and report that they are very pleased that he is doing everything in his power to “get to the bottom” of why their loved one isn’t as sharp as they used to be.

“I thought my mom was acting strange ever since she started taking stronger pain medicine for her arthritis,” says Nelly Hurtong, the daughter of one of Dr. Fishbinder’s inpatients. “But now I see that there are deeper reasons for her ‘altered mental status’ thanks to the brain MRI that showed some mild generalized atrophy.”

Hospital administrators praise Dr. Fishbinder as one of their top physicians. “He will do whatever it takes to figure out the true cause of patients’ cognitive impairments.” Says CEO, Daniel Griffiths. “And not only is that good medicine, it is great for our Press Ganey scores and our bottom line.”

As for the nursing staff, Griffiths offered a less glowing review. “It’s unfortunate that our nurses seem preoccupied with urine testing and medication reconciliation. I think it might be time for us to mandate further training to help them appreciate more of the medical nuances inherent in quality patient care.”

Dr. Fishbinder is in the process of creating a half-day seminar on ‘altered mental status in the inpatient setting,’ offering CME credits to physicians who enroll. Richmond Medical Hospital intends to sponsor Dr. Fishbinder’s course, and franchise it to other hospitals in the state, and ultimately nationally.

***

Click here for a musical take on over-testing.

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

Unaccountable: A Book About The Underbelly Of Hospital Care

I met Dr. Marty Makary over lunch at Founding Farmers restaurant in DC about three years ago. We had an animated conversation about hospital safety the potential contribution of checklists to reducing medical errors and his upcoming book about the need for more transparency in the healthcare system. Marty was…

Read more »

See all book reviews »