Super Sirens

From Medgadget:

In a brazen attempt to “raise awareness” of their presence, ambulances in Oklahoma are now being equipped with some pretty serious sonic firepower to make sure they’re heard over the music played in nearby cars. Using low frequency Howler™ sirens from Whelen Engineering, out of Chester, Connecticut, ambulance drivers can now literally fire sound waves powerful enough for drivers to feel an extrinsic vibration. Of course, our next thought was whether these are available to the general public, as we seem to find ourselves daily in situations that require a Howler.

Decrease in Paying Patients

From the ACHE News:

“Hospitals See Drop in Paying Patients”
New York Times Online (11/07/08) Abelson, Reed

At a time when emergency rooms are treating more people unable to pay their medical bills, patients with insurance are postponing knee replacements, hernia repairs, weight-loss surgeries and other elective treatments that account for a large portion of revenue and help hospitals cover the costs of charity care and unpaid bills. Of the 112 nonprofit hospitals surveyed by Citi Investment Research Analyst Gary Taylor in September, 62 percent said patient admissions were flat or falling. Experts say the situation shows problems with depending on private insurance to subsidize charity care and declining Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. According to Richard Gundling of the Healthcare Financial Management Association, “Hospitals have to balance the mix of patients in order to survive.” Hospitals are responding to the current economic climate by eliminating jobs, shuttering certain facilities and holding off on new construction or capital spending. Some hospitals and health systems are not yet in trouble but are taking steps to cut costs, with University of Pittsburgh Medical Center CFO Robert DeMichiei noting, “[Hospital executives] are beginning to act more like Corporate America.”

History & Science of Defibrillators

From Medgadget:

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Cardiac defibrillators have come a long way in the last half a century. If you pay enough attention, you will notice that defibrillators are ubiquitous: now readily seen hanging on public institution walls like first aid kits of old. IEEE Spectrum magazine has an extensive article covering the history of the defibrillator, including the pictured device invented by Dr. Claude Beck in the 1940’s at University Hospitals of Cleveland. Regulating the electric current to stimulate the heart is an interesting science from both the clinical as well as the engineering perspective, and Spectrum gives a rather in depth overview of the functionality of modern fully automatic units by tracing the device’s development through the years.

Read the whole thing at IEEE Spectrum