Heater and cooler in one

During many surgeries, including open-heart surgery, a medical device called a heater-cooler is used to raise or lower the body temperature of the patient.  However, heater-coolers made by Sorin, now LivaNova, called the Stockert 3T, can spread infection to patients.  If they become contaminated, these devices can pass mycobaterium chimaera, or M. Chimaera for short, which can cause nontuberculous mycobaterium infections, or NTM.

bacteria

Both the FDA and CDC have issued warnings about the risk of mycobateria infections while using Stockert 3T heater-coolers.

These devices may have been in use at Adena Hospital in Chillicothe, Ohio, among other hospitals in Central Ohio.

What does it mean to me:

Symptoms of mycobaterium infection may not show up for several weeks, but include fatigue, cough with blood, difficulty breathing, joint or muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, night sweats, and weight loss.

Distracted driving is no “accident”

Fascinating NYT article on how we talk about distracted driving.  Words have meaning.  The word “accident” implies no one is responsible.  “Accidents happen,” as the saying goes.  Most car crashes are not accidents.  They are caused by driver action, inaction, or distraction. Let’s call a spade a spade.  #crashnotaccident

Female driver with mobile phone. Focus on hand holding phone

She did not pick up the phone and decide to text by accident.

100% natural cancer

“Natural” foods and products seem to be all the rage these days.  Buzzwords like “organic,” “free range,” and “gluten free” convey a sense of health and superiority to other products.  But not all natural products are good for you.

Talcum powder on black background

This is not the powder you’re looking for.

Talc in talcum powder is a naturally-occurring mineral, similar in composition to asbestos. Research suggests, however, that talc may be linked to ovarian cancer.  Two recent cases against Johnson & Johnson in St. Louis found that they knew about the risk of ovarian cancer and never disclosed it.

What does this mean to you:

Interestingly, talcum powder is not regulated by the FDA, as other products are, but the makers should still warn about its potential dangers.  I guess talc is not considered a drug.  Or, you know, a food.  What I’m saying is, don’t eat talcum powder.

Knowing when to leave is half the battle

We all know the type: the person at the party who cannot bring themselves to leave. Whether they just like the sound of their own voice or fear of facing what is at home is just too much, knowing when your time is up is critical.  (Watch this segue.)  And the same goes for IVC filters.

Oh geez.  Its time to go.

Oh geez. Its time to go.

After surgery, the risk of blood clots forming goes up.  If one of those clots makes it into the lungs, it can be bad.  Like, pulmonary embolism-bad.  So, surgeons can place a metal cage or filter in a vein, called the inferior vena cava, to trap blood clots to prevent them from reaching the lungs.  

The problem is that, if these IVC filters are left in too long, they tend to not stay in place. That is, they can move or tilt, causing perforation or tearing of the vein.

These filters have several metal spines, and in a pinch, can also be used to catch bass and stripers.  (This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA.)  What has been stated by the FDA is that leaving an IVC filter in too long can be dangerous.

What does this mean to you:

It can sometimes be as important to know when to stop using a particular medical device as it can be to know when to start.

Sooner or later, they’re going to get one right

When I was growing up, Dad always had workshop.  One of the mantra’s I heard him repeat (and find myself repeating to my kids) is “measure twice, cut once.”  That is, make sure the part fits before you make it permanent.  The parents of the good people of Zimmer apparently never imparted such wisdom to their kids.

41Z6K8E2MNL._SX300_

Zimmer has now had to recall a part of its Persona artificial knee implant, specifically, the Persona porous coated, uncemented trabecular metal tibial plate.  Say that three times fast.  It seems that Zimmer began selling its knee implant without doing any clinical trials first.  This is the same problem Stryker had with its hip implants recently.

Zimmer Persona knee components can become loose, causing swelling and pain, and develop radiolucent lines – large gaps between the parts of the implant and the bones – which can damage both the bones (called osteolysis) and the device itself.

What does this mean to you:

A couple of rhetorical questions come to mind.  Shouldn’t companies that make products, especially ones that get implanted inside your body, have to test them first?  And how does one actually recall a device AFTER its been implanted?

Mmm, that’s some good Viptera.

People eat lots of strange things these days.  Believe it or not, we’ve all probably eaten Viptera, which is strain of GMO corn introduced by the fine folks at Syngenta and sold to farmers in 2011.

corn

The thing is, China (a large importer of US corn) doesn’t buy GMO corn, and rejected US corn – whether it was Viptera corn or not.  Farmers all across Ohio and the country could not sell there corn, and the price of corn has taken a huge hit.

What does this mean to you:

Low corn prices, while great for consumers, are disastrous for farmers who can now not sell their corn crop at reasonable prices.

The hidden cost of tort deform

General Motors knew that its ignition switches were faulty but allowed people to continue to drive Chevy Cobalts and other cars for years.  To date, 49 of those people have died in crashed related to the defective switches, and many more suffered horrific injuries.

burningcar

However, many families of these innocent victims have not been able to obtain justice.  Many states, including Ohio, place a limit on the amount of compensation injury victims and their families can get under the guise of “tort reform.”  As pointed out in this recent New York Times piece, it simply becomes too expensive to bring a case, in light of what the law allows to be recovered.  Said another way, by the time experts are hired to prove the case, the value of the injuries and suffering is not enough to obtain a successful result.

In fact, Ohio even takes the added step of cutting off the right to bring a case after the product is 10 years old.  This “statute of repose” applies even if it is defective and dangerous and even if the manufacturer knew of the problem.

What does this mean to you:  

No one would dispute that frivoulous lawsuits have no place in our legal system. The dispute is, what constitutes “frivolous” and who gets to decide?  Politicians or a jury of your peers?

That fracking hurts!

Ohio has become the new Texas with the oil and gas drilling boom consuming much of eastern Ohio.  Most of the media attention around fracking has focused on the environmental impacts – flammable tap water, earthquakes in Ohio, or toxic drinking water, to name a few.  Nasty stuff, to be sure.

fracking

But the physical dangers to people in the area of the wells, workers and others, is also a big fracking problem.  I saw this article today about a worker at a well in Noble County, Ohio who died after an explosion.  I suspect we will start to see more and more unfortunate, but preventable, injuries in the fracking industry in the coming months and years.

What does this mean to you:

Though the energy companies promise jobs and increased economic opportunities to the communities they invade, the costs – in terms of both environmental and human loss – continue to mount.

Now that’s saying something

The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law released a study of the records of two Ohio Supreme Court Justices – Justices French and Kennedy – who are both running for re-election this year.  The study found that Justice French voted with her top campaign contributors over 91% of the time, and that Justice Kennedy voted with her contributors 88% of the time.  This study is really remarkable for a couple of reasons.

court gavel on U.S. Twenty dollar bills

First, money in politics matters.  We don’t want our government sold to the highest bidder.  Second, the 1851 Center is affiliated with the tea party movement.  One of their main issues is limited government.  The fact they they, of all groups, are critical of two of the conservatives on the Court says something.

What does this mean to you:

If you are interested in Justices who aren’t influenced by campaign contributions or are interested limiting government, this study suggests, these aren’t the Justices you’re looking for.