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Drug Manufacturer Issues Statement Banning Drug Used For Lethal Injections

A friend sent me a press release a few days ago and I still find myself thinking about it. Here in the United States capital punishment is still legal in many states and is performed, frequently, by lethal injection. Prisoners sentenced to death have an IV placed in their arm which is then infused with the following three solutions:

  1. A barbiturate like Sodium Pentothal or Nembutal, used to induce anesthesia
  2. A paralytic like pancuronium bromide or succinylcholine chloride, used to stop respiration
  3. Potassium chloride used to stop electrical conduction in the heart

I remember a few years ago drug manufacturer Hospira, the producer of Sodium Pentothal, issued a statement that it disapproved of its drug being used in capital punishment.  But, that was as far as their opposition went and, although Sodium Pentothal is in short supply, they have not to my knowledge formally discontinued supplying Sodium Pentothal to doctors who might use the drug in lethal injection.   In 2010, the supply of Sodium Pentothal became limited and several states made the switch to Nembutal.

In response, Lundbeck, the producer of Nembutal, has issued a statement saying that they will no longer provide Nembutal to prisons in states where lethal injection is legal.  In this press release Lundbeck announces its new distribution system, saying: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess*

A Scientist Warns Against Some Forms Of Collaboration

Yesterday I went to go see my friend, the recently infrequently-mentioned Dr. Buttercup. When I first came to MRU, Dr. Buttercup was gracious enough to allow me to share lab space with him. That, coupled with our mutual love of beer and cake, meant that we saw each other quite frequently. Now that I have moved into other laboratory digs and find myself full of people, I see less of Dr. Buttercup and am the recipient of far less of his wisdom. It’s a shame. I miss that dude.

Then again, as soon as that guy received a grant score that someone told him was “fundable”, he became insufferable. Show off.

But, I digress. I saw Dr. Buttercup yesterday about a different matter and we got to discussing the idea of collaboration. He shared the notion that, as an Assistant Professor, collaboration is one of the funnest things he does. It’s also potentially one of the most dangerous because it robs your time without real reward. Still, brainstorming new experiments is fun and sometimes that additional effort on someone else’s grant pays the bills.

This made me think that the same is true for postdoc-level scientists and made me think about some collaborations I got myself into once upon a time. You see, when you’re a newly-minted, grown-up scientist, you’re on top of the world. Perhaps you start to feel like an expert in something and, perhaps, you’re enthusiastic to show the folks around you how good you are at what you do.

Don’t do it. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess*

American Heart Association’s Registration Page Demonstrates Gender And Sexual Orientation Bias?

This afternoon I sat in my chair, revitalized form my weekend trip to the Jersey Shore, where I can assure you I did not partake in any fist pumping, spray tanning, pickle eating, or felonious activities, when I received an email from the American Heart Association announcing new scientific findings. I like these emails and generally find them informative.

This particular email announced the placement of the first completely lab-grown human vascular grafts. The email linked to a presentation from Todd N. McAllister of Cytograft Tissue Engineering Inc. These blood vessels were apparently engineered from donor skin cells and: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess*

Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) Are Great, But Don’t Fix All Heart Problems

I think one of the greatest public safety advances of the last 15 years has been the widespread installation of automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Automated external defibrillators are medical devices designed to deliver an electrical shock to the heart in ventricular fibrillation – a cardiac rhythm that is commonly associated with cardiac arrest.

Figure 1: ECG of a heart devolving into ventricular fibrillation.

I was working in emergency medicine when medical device companies first began to advocate for the placement of AEDs in public places and worked closely with many companies, organizations, and government agencies to incorporate AEDs into their emergency response plans. This wasn’t an easy sell in the late 1990s. People were worried about safety, liability, and cost. But, AED programs have been a great success. AEDs are most effective when they are used within 3-5 minutes of arrest. For example, if you have a cardiac arrest with ventricular fibrillation in New York City, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess*

Amazing Leaps In Medical Knowledge: Heart Physiology Then And Now

These last several weeks I have been absolutely overwhelmed with science, meetings, writing, and reviews. I might complain, but I should also be flattered that I am as busy as I am. Mama is in demand, little muffin. Still, things are beginning to slow down to a tolerable level on my end, which means I will be back to blogging.

Today I was working on some writing when I had cause to review some historical texts. It gives me pause to stop and consider things that we take for granted. For example, think about how blood flows through the heart and lungs…

Figure 1: Blood flows from right to left, across the lungs.

I can’t tell you how many times a day I look at a heart and  take for granted that blood should flow from the venous circulation, into the right side of the heart, across the lungs, back to the left side of the heart, and out to the arterial circulation.  When all is right with the world, such is the way it should be.

But, we didn’t always know that.   Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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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…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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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…

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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…

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