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Emergency Relief: Opera-Singing EPs, Intubating Robots, and Other Tales from the ED

Scheck, Anne

doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000426176.74416.da
Emergency Relief
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Yin and Yang

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You always knew there were two kinds of emergency staffers, right? Larks and owls. Well, now you have proof, thanks to an intrepid team of French researchers. They found that some of you perform well at night, others in the morning, and even very smart people have peak circadian times for problem-solving. There are those with early-bird neurobiology and others with brains that kick in around sunset. It gets worse: A separate study suggests that for mysterious reasons opposites like this attract and often end up married. (ChronobiolInt2011;28[6]:520.)

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Les Miserables, Part Deux

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In case you are one of the five people who miss the new blockbuster film “Les Miserables,” some of your peers have their own version for your viewing pleasure. In a video that has yet to go even mildly viral, two aria-singing doctors, apparently the emergency departmentequivalents of Jean Valjean and Javert,operatically voice a tragic conflict. The latter character, an ED director rather than a French policeman, tracks down his fleeing colleague, declaring, “At last! I paged an hour ago!”

Upon being discovered, the hiding emergency physician belts back, “I will not be dumped upon by some chump with Lycra on.” After much such musical dialogue, the pair finally agreethat it is waiting for labs that has upset them, and suggest taking a trip together for mountain climbing or kite flying. FYI, their performance has turned out to be an award winner.The blog was chosen as the best new site by medgadget.com in 2010. Who needs an Oscar when you can clinch that kind oftitle? (http://bit.ly/EDmiserable)

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A Virtual ED Visit

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Anyfan of the “The Big Bang Theory” may already know that the ED itself has been a plot device a couple of times for the hit TV series' socially clueless team of scientists. It turns out EDs have a long, rich history in sitcoms, apparently starting with a third-season episode of “Frasier” in 1995 when a lizard planted by the radio psychiatrist as a practical joke bites a female friend instead of the intended target, a rival on-air host. For sheer patient volume, however, nothing beats “Appalachian Emergency Room” on Saturday Night Live, a recurring skit in which Seth Myers plays a triage nurse, drolly directing patients ranging from a man with a protruding anus to a tongue-less neighbor whose pit bull ate his mouth parts. Like some real EDs, the waiting room is always packed and having a sense of humor can be essential. (http://www.hulu.com/watch/1595)

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Thanks for the Memories

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It turns out that ED rotations can haunt surgeons for years to come. The article “50 Secrets Surgeons Won't Tell You” contains one nugget that the ED is a place of duress for some of the surgical profession. One surgeon confessedhe stuck himself twice with contaminated needles, got slugged by a patient, and accidentally punctured a femoral artery trying to draw blood. Another explained that unexpected incidents are so emotionally difficult that “we can have outbursts. Some of us curse, some of us throw instruments, others have tantrums.” In short, it can be stressful to be under pressure in an EDthat has … well, emergencies. (Reader's Digest, October 2012)

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Team Spirit and Snow Don't Mix

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Could it be because of climate change? Or just avid sports fans? Snowball injuries have increased the past two years. EDs beware: This is not the wintry rite of Norman Rockwell boyhood scenes. No, these icy spheres are being hurled hurtfully. In Washington, the balls were lobbed by football-fan opponents, resulting in a lawsuit. Canadian hockey enthusiasts are reported to have used the hand-packed snow in the same way. And the annual snowball fight at the U.S. Air Force Academy, which traditionally is staged after Colorado's first snow, ended up causing bruises and lacerations to more than a couple dozen cadets. Leaders there say the snow-throwing has provided a “teachable moment.” It seems snow-based weaponry is verboten for all future U.S Air Force combatants. (http://bit.ly/AirForceSnowball)

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Text Me in the Morning

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Who needs an emergency physician when a problem can be diagnosed from the comfort of a home computer? Yes, that's right. At a fraction of what it costs for an ED visit, a program developed by Minnesota-based HealthPartners — available at virtuwell.com — can help with colds, flu, sinus infections, and other common maladies, all at the touch of a keypad.

“You'll take a quick online interview that checks your history and makes sure your problem isn't serious,” according to the instructions. “When you finish the interview, a nurse practitioner reviews it in about 30 minutes.” Then, presto, a personalized treatment plan arrives by, yep,email or text. Though the site obviously has no bedside manner, it is,like a real ED, available 24/7,“always there when you need it!” (www.virtuwell.com)

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Food Fit for Cardiac Arrest

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A federal judge has ruled that two different restaurants truly do have distinct versions of the “heart-attack sandwich.” The Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas, which has been serving giant cheeseburgers of the same name, recently challenged a deli in New York, which was selling a sandwich known as “Instant Heart Attack.” It had even launched a “triple bypass version.” Because the latter included potato pancakes, the judge found that it was easily discerned from its Vegas counterpart, posing no trademark infringement. The judge also observed that the cheeseburger is not kosher, as is the deli offering. Both, however, are designed for the truly calorie-unconscious. (Huffington Post NY, July 8, 2012; http://bit.ly/MIonaBun)

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Machines are Taking Over!

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The intubating robot is coming soon! (Or maybe not.) Leave it to new and techno-savvy emergency physicians to describe in convincing detail a device that can reliably be used for intubation, minus the risk of any human error. It is so easy “you just sit it on the patient's face,” and the robot — complete with CO2 sniffer and equipped with a camera — can work as well as “any sewage drainer.” So say respondents to the Student Doctor Network, who have opined that that the technology is already here. So why isn't the robot? A few skeptics are not so sure machines alone can do the trick. After all, the bots have to be built and tested. As one cynic put it: “Danger Will Robinson!” (http://bit.ly/EDbots)

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