Posts Tagged ‘Medtronic’

That’s not what it was designed for!

October 8, 2009

Another gem from the blog of Cardiac Electrophysiologist Dr. Wes: We all know that an Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator (ICD) is a lifesaver…it monitors your heartbeat and when it detects a dangerous arrhythmia, it sends an electrical shock to “kick-start” the heart back into its correct rhythm.

Or you can use it to stop a bullet!

A 61 year old man was on the receiving end of gunfire – not a good place to be! – but luckily for him, the bullet impacted his ICD. Click the “stop a bullet” link; Dr. Wes has a photograph of the heroic (but dented) Defibrillator.

The good people of Medtronic, who made this particular unit, would like to remind you that their ICDs are not designed to be bulletproof. For continued good health, they recommend that you avoid situations in which people are shooting at you!


IMPORTANT: Check those batteries!

September 14, 2009

Ironic in the light of my posting a photo of my old pacemaker (and the fact that we have information on new pacemaker technology, which you’ll see in a day or so) but Medtronic is issuing a warning about the batteries in some of its Implantable Defibrillation Devices (ICDs).

Some of Medtronic’s Concerto and Virtuoso devices built in 2006 may have a problem that causes the battery to drain faster than originally thought. The devices WILL NOT suddenly stop working… but they will need changing earlier than expected. Doctors have been warned in a letter from the company, and you can click a link in the letter to check your unit’s serial number against a list of possibly affected ICDs. They are programmed to give a three month “I’m getting low!” signal to an implantable device monitor, so there shouldn’t be any problem with scheduling a replacement when the time comes.

Check that link if you have one of the affected models!

Keeping pace

September 11, 2009

I’ve mentioned my pacemaker many times. The last time I had to have it replaced, I asked if I could keep the old one. The OR staff washed it off and placed it in a clear plastic envelope for me!

If you have never seen one, here’s a photo of my pacemaker. Note the rulers on each side to give you an idea of the dimensions; measurements are in inches.


EMRs? Maybe not!

May 13, 2009

The new push to move everyone to an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is not going well. For the record, I still carry my USB stick clipped to my belt, but it is becoming more obvious that this idea needs a lot of work.

A good example is pacemakers. There are several major pacemaker manufacturers, and even though all pacemakers function in the same way, a pacemaker controller belonging to one company will NOT control another company’s pacer. The reasoning behind this is “protocols”.

The protocols are, in short, the pacemaker’s programming –  the electronic brains of the pacer. And those protocols are super secret – you’d have better luck strolling into the White House uninvited than you would finding out what those protocols are! Because that set of computer commands are what makes these pacers different (and better!) and if another pacemaker company learns what they are, we loose our competitive edge… and probably some pacemaker sales.

So if your hospital wants to offer the best pacemaker technology available, you have to sign a contract with almost every major pacemaker company. After all, one pacer does not fit all. So that means multiple contracts, multiple payments, and multiple pacemaker controller units – when a lot of cost could be avoided if everyone would decide to pool their technology. But that would mean giving up the protocols… fat chance that will happen!

And don’t think current technology can insure your records are 100% safe. Hackers break into computer systems all the time, even medical databases. And don’t forget the recurring controversy over Electronic Voting Machines!

All is not lost, there are always technological advances happening that will improve medical care. St. Jude Medical is introducing a new pacemaker monitor that is completely wireless! Home monitoring of your pacemaker is pretty easy now: it’s painless and takes about 10 minutes. But with this new model, it’s wireless. You really just have to be close to the device, and it can even test the pacer while you are sleeping!

If you have a medical emergency that renders you unable to speak, your options are limited: You can either use the traditional necklace/bracelet with your health information, or you can opt to carry a USB stick with your medical information. Carrying the USB is becoming less and less of an option; a lot of medical providers refuse to insert them into their computers; a USB stick can carry a computer virus just as easy as they can carry your medical records. (I also have a pocket sized folder in my back pocket chock full of my medical information – everything you want to know about the Funky Heart!)

But there is a another option coming to the market: an Emergency Data Link. The Data Link features a small electronic screen – press the button and it activates with your medical information!

Keepin’ the Beat!

October 3, 2008

It’s the 50th birthday of the Implantable Pacemaker! Check out the first one produced by Medtronic – scroll down to see how big it really was – and read the obituary of the first man to receive an implantable pacemaker. (Thankfully, more than 40 years passed between that first pacemaker and the obituary!)

What if there was a new MRI-type Imaging System that could be built with electronics that you can buy almost anywhere? There is! (And take a look at the quality of images it can produce!)

Well, this isn’t good. Be sure to warn your doctor if you have a family history of stroke.

“That blood vessel is too small for a stent.” Not any more.

Pfizer’s throwing in the towel.

Panasonic has a new computerized handheld tablet for hospital use, used for updating medical records. It’s based on the Panasonic Toughbook. Despite the new tablet, Electronic Medical Records still have a long way to go. Kevin is not a fan; and it makes one of his fellow doctors shout “I want my paper records back!”

Where you live does matter when you are seriously ill! Go here for the full report and a national map. More charts are available at the bottom of the page.

A new Stem Cell Therapy is entering the trial phase. Non-controversial, too, as the stem cells are taken from the patient’s thigh. I’m keeping an eye on this one!

Remember how the ACHA was campaigning for the Social Security policy team to allow adults to submit Pulse Oximeter readings rather than Arterial Blood Gas test results? Here’s why.