Thursday, October 2, 2014

What Ebola Taught Us About Wound Care Safety

Most of us know now that Ebola can be transmitted through contact with bodily fluids. Because of this, it’s important to be cautious as we care for open wounds. While Ebola does not pose a significant risk in the United States at present, the threat of Ebola can help us become more intentional about how we care for wounds in general. Many other common diseases also spread through contact with open wounds. The possibility of an Ebola outbreak can remind us to renew our vigilance when dealing with any open wounds.

The most basic protection when dealing with open wounds includes covering your own body to prevent infection. This is especially important if you have open wounds or scratches. But even with basic coverings like gloves and gowns, diseases can still spread to if you use flawed protective materials. If your gloves are flimsy and tear while in use, their protection is useless. Encourage your workplace to invest in strong gloves that fit appropriately on you hands. Thin gowns that allow bodily fluids to seep through the material can also be dangerous. If the clothing you wear while treating open wounds is too porous, use thicker, more impermeable material.

Even while using the best protective gear, infection can still occur. One nurse who fell ill from Ebola linked her sickness to the moment when she removed her personal protective equipment. Since she was no examining the patient, she grew careless. Healthcare providers should remember that even if the patient you are treating is no longer nearby, your protective equipment can still pose a threat to your health. Remove it carefully, with as little contact with the exterior surface as possible. Always wash your hands immediately after discarding your gear.

Another risk for healthcare workers that Ebola has reminded us of is infected needles. Several doctors and nurses who worked with Ebola patients were infected by the accidental scratch of a used needle. Since needles slide easily through many materials, it’s easy to get infected this way, even while wearing protective clothing. Be especially cautious around used needles and discard them immediately after using.

While the likelihood of contacting Ebola in the US is relatively low, our heightened awareness brought on by the threat can lead to safer wound treatment. Wear protective gear and discard it carefully after use. Be especially careful around sharp objects, including needles. Torn protective gear is useless.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tips for Preventing Infection in Diabetics

Diabetes and wounds can be a dangerous mix. Even a small nick can grow quickly into a serious problem. Because diabetes can lead to complications like a weakened immune system, a wounded person with diabetes is at serious risk for infection. A person with diabetes will often have difficulty moving blood from their arteries to the wound site, since diabetic arteries are often more narrow than average. The limited blood flow will prevent the wound from healing quickly. In some situations the nerves themselves have become damaged and insensitive to pain. A diabetic might not even be aware of his or her injury until the damage has become very serious.

The feet and legs of a diabetic are especially susceptible to wound complications. Circulation there is poor and can lead to increased swelling. In addition, it’s hard to rest those parts and keep them immobile. There’s an increased risk in these areas of wound contamination and blistering. That’s why it’s even more important for the diabetic to wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes. Poorly fitting shoes often go unnoticed because of damaged nerves. Blisters then develop into unnoticed infections. An unfortunate percentage of diabetics develop ulcers on their feet—many times leading to hospitalizations.

Because of this, staying alert to any injuries a diabetic may incur is essential. Advise a diabetic to clean out all wounds as soon as they occur. Though this isn’t a replacement for a strong immune system, it can help. Remind the diabetic to clean the inside of the wound with only water. Other commonly used substances like soap or iodine may make the wound take even longer to heal.  Recommend an antibiotic ointment combined with regularly changed bandages.  Follow this suggestion with instructions to visit a doctor as soon as possible. Don’t wait for the diabetic person to become injured to give them this advice. Mention it before any problems arise so that when an injury does occur, they’ll already know what to do.

To prevent these problems, especially if the diabetic has nerve damage, encourage the diabetic to inspect places that are vulnerable to wounds daily. The sole of the foot and between the toes are especially important as wounds in these places can go unnoticed. But even if the nerves don’t provide notice of problems, a visual check can pinpoint any injuries early on. If the diabetic notices any swelling or odor, infection has already progressed to a dangerous point. He or she should contact a healthcare professional immediately.

To prevent problems like this make sure the skin stays healthy, clean, and properly moisturized. Dry, cracked skin can allow dirt past the skin and into the body. Conversely, overly moist skin, especially on the feet, can lead to fungal problems. Daily cleaning can keep skin sterile.  Good socks can help keep the feet remain clean and dry throughout the day. Some may even help with circulation.

With a few simple lifestyle modifications, such as clean socks and comfortable shoes, the risk of wound infection can be minimized. Daily skin inspections and cleanings can keep skin healthy. Increased awareness of the danger will help the diabetic manage the risk.

The Importance of Proper Wound Care

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

3-D Printing: The Future of Medical Technology

The world of medicine is constantly evolving and adapting to meet the demands of the modern world. As the world around us changes, so do the problems presented before us. Nevertheless, technological advances allow for those problems to not only be addressed, but also resolved. The growth of technology has allowed us to solve some of the dire problems in the modern world. Technology can revolutionize virtually any industry. No industry benefits greater from technological advancements than the medical industry. Advancements in medical technology are not only saving lives, but also prolonging lives and solving complex problems that are nothing short of science fiction.

The growth of medical technology over the past decade has been monumental, and has paved the road for a prosperous future of human health. From understanding and developing vaccines for globally threatening viruses, to manipulating stem cells to grow functional human organs, technology has ushered medicine into a new era. Despite the leaps and bounds of medical technology over the past decade, a relatively new technology finds itself on the cusp of greatness. This technology is three-dimensional printing, also known as additive manufacturing.

Manufacturing Made Easy 

Imagine a world where the ability to produce a good was as simple as printing a document from the computer. This concept sounds closer to something found in a futuristic science fiction novel, but it’s quickly becoming a tangible reality. Three-dimensional printing is the process of constructing a solid, three-dimensional object through the layering of materials. The process begins with a design that is uploaded to a computer. Next, the production ingredient is chosen and the design is sent to the 3D printer. The end product is a functional, three dimensional object with limitless possibilities. 

Medical Technology and 3D Printing 

Three-dimensional printing will not only change the world of manufacturing, but will also allow for immense growth of medical technology. This growth is exactly that—growth. 3-D printing has the potential to one-day print functional human organs. This process—known as bioprinting—works by harvesting human cells from stem cells. Scientists then allow the harvested cells to proliferate in a petri dish. The outcome of this process is a mixture that can be fed into a 3-D printer programmed to combine raw materials and different cell types into a solid three-dimensional object.

The concept of growing human organs in a laboratory may appear controversial to some, but for many scientists the idea of bioprinting is both enthralling and promising. Genuine printed human organs would have several useful applications, for example, vaccine testing. Not only would testing vaccines on printed organs provide researchers with more accurate data, it would also prevent less reliable and inhumane testing methods.

Bioprinting is still in the development process. The Methuselah Foundation, however, has accelerated the process. The Virginia based foundation supports the new regenerative medicine research and announced it would award a $1 million prize to the first organization to print a fully functioning liver.


Ethical Dilemmas of Bioprinting 

While scientists champion the idea of bioprinting, some are more hesitant toward the fledgling technology. One fear is that the technology will advance faster than the understanding, including the ramifications, of the technology. Despite the well-intended nature of bioprinting, the technology presents several dangers. One danger is controlling who has the ability to produce human organs. Organ trading already exists within global black markets, and without strict regulation the ability to grow complex organs could be jeopardized. A second stumbling block is the price. Health care spending in the United States is greater than anywhere else on the planet, and the cost of bioprinting may put the revolutionary technology out of reach for most.

A Work in Progress 

3-D printing is still very much a work in progress. The concept is there, but it may be several years unil bioprinting becomes a reality. In addition, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would ultimately determine implementing 3-D printed organs in a surgical procedure—a review process that could take nearly a decade alone. For now, scientists are focused on developing the technology, and the first step will be printing strips of tissue that can be utilized to repair damaged organs. As technology continues to revolutionize the world we live in, the darkness ahead of us is becoming more and more illuminated.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Medical Supplies for the Masses

Medical technology has come a long, long, way since the invention of the stethoscope about 200 years ago. No more do people die from such simple conditions as the common cold, the measles, or even polio. And why is that? Geniuses flexed their genius, in basic terms, and created medical equipment and antidotes that birthed businesses ready to supply said equipment to the masses, in order to keep hospitals and other practices running smoothly. Now a days, such companies thrive in an ever-growing market characterized by a need for surgical materials in order to alleviate any kind of ailment or accident.

So Many Options 

Among the many medical supply companies, there is one that stands out from Freehold, New Jersey called MPM Medical supply. They carry a wide array of products for any kind of major or minor surgical procedure. These procedures vary from sterilizations, to CT scans, to bone marrow aspirates, to X-rays, to prostate biopsies.

• OB/GYN Equipment: This includes such instruments as dilators, forceps, hooks, insertion kits, loop electrodes, pipelle, suction tubes, scissors, and the like. MPM prides themselves on using German Stainless Steel products that carry a 100% lifetime guarantee. These products can be used for such procedures as hysterectomies, colposcopies, LEEP procedures, sterilizations, pregnancies, menstrual disorders, etc.

• Mammography Equipment: This includes such instruments as biopsy needles, biopsy trays, breast tissue markers, disposable instrument packs, radiation eyewear, and sharps safe trays. They supply only the best products from such companies as Kopans, Mammalok, Hydromark, and UltraCLIP that are also 100% lifetime guaranteed German Stainless Steel.

• Hematology Oncology Equipment: This includes such instruments as bone marrow biopsy needles, bone marrow procedure trays, and bone marrow aspiration needles. All of these tools are disposable and can be expected at a high quality for a wholesale price. These products are used to perform bone marrow aspirates, where bone marrow is removed to test for anemia, bone marrow biopsies, where bone marrow tissue is removed and tested, and bone marrow transplants, where healthy marrow is transplanted in place of unhealthy marrow that can also heal hereditary blood diseases.

• Radiology Equipment: This includes such products as amniocentesis trays, arthrogram trays, disposable instrument trays, endometrial suction curettes, drainage bags, pacing cables, radiation eyewear, and vascular access needles. One can use these supplies for such procedures as breast and cardiac imaging, MRI, molecular imaging, PET, ultrasound, and X-ray.

• Radiation Oncology Equipment: This includes such products as disposable templates, prostate seeding sets, and sterile pre-cut spacers. They carry a large supply of 100% lifetime guaranteed German Stainless Steel goods from companies such as Mick, that provide disposable and non-disposable sets.

• Urology Equipment: This includes such instruments as biopsy needles, biopsy trays, Chiba/Franseen/Westcott needles, drainage bags/decanters, radiation eyewear, and radiation reducing gloves. They are all high quality products sold at wholesale prices. Said instruments can be used for such procedures as bladder slings, kidney CT scans, prostate biopsies, lithotripsies, and many physical therapy exercises.


The Purpose 

MPM Medical supply is dedicated to providing the best quality products at wholesale prices, always. They understand that physicians need to maintain costs without sacrificing the high quality care that they are known for, especially in a time when economic struggles are all too real for everyone. They offer a large range of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and OB/GYN equipment for any kind of medical equipment. And any hospital or private practice can count on the fact that all of the products are manufactured and tested in the United States.

The fact of the matter is: there are a large number of doctors and practicing physicians that need to order medical equipment at any time of the day from the comfort of their own computer. It’s basically a necessity in today’s modern, constantly “plugged in” culture to order basic products from the Internet. But not many know that the need for medical equipment, from online distributers such as MPM Medical Supply, is in even higher demand. With the higher demand for less invasive materials for minimally damaging procedures MPM Medical Supply is a step ahead and with over two million jobs being created by the medical technology field, there’s no doubt that this market will continue growing.

Efficiency is the Name of the Game

In 1816 the stethoscope was just being invented and those in the medical field, as well as the general public, were frustrated with the lack of technology to handle infections and diseases. Imagine living in a time when the most advanced piece of medical equipment is, basically, a pair of metallic headphones that can listen for a heartbeat. So, if anyone needed to know if they were dead or not, or just wanted to hear their heartbeat for free, the stethoscope was the best invention since sliced bread. Otherwise, by today’s medical standards, it was as if someone just re-invented the pencil: not a huge step, but a very small one. Regardless, within two years the first successful blood transfusion was performed and the medical field would never be the same, after, with advancements.

Medical Technology: Providing Economic and Health Value

The Medical Technology Boom 

Between 1842 and 1852 alone two of the most important advances for surgery and general medical procedures were reached: using anesthesia as well as hypodermic needles successfully. After that there was a resurgence of productivity in the field that led to many more advances between 1852 and 2008, such as: a vaccine for cholera, the band-aid, insulin for diabetes, a vaccine for diphtheria and tetanus, devices for neurosurgery, Tylenol, the pacemaker, the CAT scan, the MRI machine, etc. All of these technological advances have helped to save millions of lives and thrust us into the 21st century where an ever-growing medical supply industry is in high demand.

Why is this? Hospitals, private practices, and even medical colleges rely on wholesalers that readily sell this kind of equipment: catheters, procedure trays, loop electrodes, surgical scissors, and any other implements necessary in the OB/GYN, oncology, radiology, or urology departments. Luckily, companies such as MPM Medical Supply, based in Freehold, New Jersey, carry these kinds of equipment that are all available at the click of virtual button, with many items that are constantly in stock without fail.

Treatment Improvements 

Without companies like MPM Medical Supply, hospitals would not be able to function properly. It is true that advancements in medical technology play a large part, but demand and supply are what keep facilities open. Think about a hospital that couldn’t get a hold of surgical scissors because no supply company had any in stock. The country would be facing a large number of fatalities as well as horrific diseases. The growing amount of available technology has led to vast increases with treatments.

• Speedy Diagnosis: In the 19th century, tests were rarely run on patients. It was a lot of trial and error. Now a days blood tests can reveal any kind of possible problem within 24 hours.

• Short Hospital Stays: Less invasive, more advanced treatments + better recovery plans = faster recovery

• Less Invasive Treatments: No need to worry about surgery causing weird side effects or massive hemorrhaging anymore. Surgery can be completed in a matter of hours, with recovery time taking a day or two at most.

In recent years medical technology has even evolved to work on smart phones, such as the iPhone Blood Pressure Monitor attachment. These new and improved items, like Nexagon gene therapy gels, bionic limbs, wireless heart monitors, skin cell guns, and STEM microscopes, are all available through medical supply companies willing to do whatever it takes to satisfy any customer’s needs.


Why a Wholesaler?

Why should hospitals, private practices, and medical colleges rely on a wholesaler, or “middle man,” for their supplies? It would probably be a whole lot easier for them to just buy items straight from the manufacturer, right? Wrong. Even though manufacturers produce these medical products it does not mean they also are knowledgeable in regards to them. Companies such as MPM Medical Supply are, indeed, erudite with the various types of merchandise and can alleviate any specific questions or problems one might have. They are a state of the art medical supply distributor that is “doctor trusted,” an honor bestowed to online sales companies that go above and beyond expectations in the field, and have over 20 years of experience, which allows them to stay up-to-date with the expanding amount of new technology becoming available every day.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Hygiene Today and the Infections of Tomorrow

Concerns that various infectious diseases are growing more and more immune to the antibacterial treatments that we have developed for them are growing among the medical community. As a result, it is more and more important to take precautionary and preventative measures when it comes to situations where you risk infection, as the overuse of antibiotics is what is contributing to the increasing immunity of infectious diseases against current treatments. Many of these preventative measures are, in fact, incredibly easy to undertake, but repeated reminding and education is important if they are to take hold and continue to be common practices!

Growing resistance to last-line antibiotics
by arnehaeger.
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One Hand Washes the Other 

Washing your hands before and after coming into contact with a potentially infectious material, whether it is feces, food, dirt, or bodily fluids, is a no-brainer, right? Yet many people fail to wash their hands, whether it is out of forgetfulness, ignorance, or just plain laziness. As a result, many diseases end up in your food, in your drink, and in your hand when you shake someone else’s hand. Still, the overwhelming frequency with which people wash their hands in the bathroom and in the kitchen saves most people from becoming infected with a wide variety of diseases. Did you know, however, that we were not always so clean?

Indeed, once upon a time washing your hands was not common practice among those most sterile of professionals, surgeons. In 1847, the Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis observed that fatal childbed, or puerperal, fever occurred most often in women who were assisted by medical students, as opposed to those women who were assisted by midwives. After studying the problem, Semmelweis discovered that those medical students who had assisted with childbirth often did so after they had performed an autopsy on a patient who had died from sepsis of a bacterial origin, a fairly common way to go in those days. Obviously, having not washed their hands, that bacteria was passed on in the delicate process of childbirth, leading to the mother’s fever.

Semmelweis subsequently instituted a strict policy of hand washing with a chlorinated antiseptic solution intended to help relieve the problem. As a result, mortality rates dropped by 10 to 20-fold within 3 months of the hand washing policy’s institution, which proved that the transmission of disease could be vastly reduced simply by instituting the practice of washing your hands!

Water, Water, Everywhere 

Washing your hands means little if you aren’t doing so with clean water, however. Once upon a time, outbreaks of bacterial cholera led to frequent outbreaks in massive proportions, with thousands dead and more ill. At the time, people believed that the cause of cholera was poisonous gases from the sewers, open graves, and other areas where decay was common. John Snow, a medical doctor in the 19th century England, knew differently.

Snow had observed that cholera appeared to be spread through sewage-contaminated water. Specifically, he mapped an area near Broad Street in London, noticing that most cholera-related deaths occurred near a pump on that street – where residents frequently stopped to drink water. He removed the pump handle, and the spread of the disease seemed to be suddenly contained. In time, Snow’s findings became major contributions to our understanding of infectious diseases and the importance of clean drinking water.


Prevention is the Key

Of course, today, we’ve developed all kinds of technological advances that allow us to live in a relatively safe, hygienic world where we don’t have to worry about tuberculosis, cholera, the bubonic plague, and other diseases that once decimated whole populations for hundreds of years. Instead, we are our own worst enemy, sometimes using antibiotics unnecessarily and increasing the resistance of some diseases against those antibiotics.

Precautionary measures like gloves and masks when working with food, drink, or potentially infectious materials, along with good hygienic habits like hand-washing, are far more effective when it comes to preventing infection, as opposed to waiting until you are infected and only then bombarding yourself with treatment after treatment of antibiotics. Even worse is the threat of a virus for which we have no cure; no antibiotic can help you then, which is why vaccination is so important. Prevention, of course, is still the best defense anyone has, and that means good habits and good equipment!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Plight and Pack of a Combat Medic

You don’t have to be John Watson to recognize that the kind of medical work a combat medic does on the field is vastly different from the kind of work a doctor does in the safe, controlled confines of a hospital. There is a whole world of difference between the two roles, though both find themselves with the same basic set of responsibilities: to care for the sick and injured when they need it most.

With that said, however, a combat medic lacks a variety of other tools and conveniences that your domestic doctor lacks. So how do they get the job done of helping and healing individuals who may have been seriously injured while on the battlefield? The kind of trauma combat medics see, after all, is above and beyond what most doctors deal with, and yet they are expected to handle those situations similarly. Worse, they must tend to their patients while sometimes in the most trying of environments, even on the battlefield itself!

What Makes a Combat Medic So Special? 

First, it is important to know what a combat medic does not have. An armed medic, for example, does not receive the protections of the Geneva Conventions, and is considered a combatant. That means that in any conflict where both sides are observing the rules of war as set down by the Geneva Conventions, an armed medic can be shot, killed, captured, and so on under the rules of engagement.

Thus, in order to enjoy the protections they need to do their job, combat medics typically go unarmed. Additionally, they wear large, clear, identifying symbols like the red cross to identify themselves clearly across the battlefield. Unfortunately, in “asymmetric warfare” where the enemy may not observe the rules of engagement, medics are “fair game,” and in fact medics are sometimes actively targeted along with officers and radio operators. In these kinds of conflicts, medics do not wear insignia and they do go armed.

Saving Lives 101 

A combat medic’s medical kit is typically limited to a backpack called the “Unit One Pack.” While in some units medics have a standard kit to carry, others allow for medics to choose what they bring with them onto the field. However, certain medical equipment can typically be expected.

By The Numbers: Today
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First, fluid resuscitation equipment is often brought along. This includes IV fluids for patients, as well as tubing to administer the fluids, which is typically saline, sodium chloride, hetastarch or hextend, and lactated ringers. Several gauges of IV catheters are brought along, as well. Finally, a “FAST 1” intraosseous infusion kit is included as a method of quickly administering fluids when jugular venous access is unavailable owing to the patient’s injuries. On the battlefield, massive blood loss, burns, and loss of limbs is not at all unexpected in one’s patients.

Airway management supplies is also brought. Long catheters for neddle chest decompression are included, along with chest seals, nasal trumpets, oropharyngeal airways and a surgical cricothyrotomy kit.

Beyond the Basics 

While ensuring that patients receive fluids and are able to breathe are some of the primary concerns of combat medics, a variety of other supplies are brought along to deal with other issues, including bleeding and broken or fractured bones. This can include muslin and gauze bandages, band-aids and Ace bandages, tape, self-clinging wrap, a reusable splint, burn dressing, and trauma shears. Additionally, for sterility, nitrile gloves, alcohol, iodine, and other materials may be included in the kit.

A variety of drugs are also often included, such as morphine, narcan, phenegran, and epinephrine. Additionally, as combat medics are expected to care for the daily aches and pains of their charges, medication for minor ailments are included in kits. This can include paracetamol, ibruprogen, diphenhydramine, pepto bismol, and Colace. To aid in caring for others, the medic may also use diagnostic tools like a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, and thermometer.

It can seem beyond belief that a combat medic is expected to care for some of the most seriously injured individuals in our society in intense conditions, under threat of violence, and with only these tools available to them, but we have to keep in mind that the many tools available to us in modern medical environments were, not too long ago, not even in existence! Combat medics make do with what they have, though, and they do a surprisingly amazing job of it, all things considered!