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Emergency Relief

Kidney Stones, Jellyfish Stings, Cafeteria Food, and the Dangers of Food Preparation

Scheck, Anne

doi: 10.1097/01.EEM.0000462170.62128.8b
Emergency Relief
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Move Over, Frosty

It was a record-breaking year for donations of stuffed toys to hospitals, and emergency departments were the most common recipients, followed by pediatric facilities. The teddy bear topped the list of most-proffered cuddly critter, but another popular choice for kids this past year was a scrawny, buck-toothed snowman. For any parent who accompanied young moviegoers to the runaway-hit “Frozen,” you may agree with others that it's time for the movie and Olaf the snowman to fade into history. But kids are still big fans of this upbeat sidekick who looks like a pile of lopsided snowballs, and now he's the main character at some medical centers. (Examiner; http://exm.nr/1vAH129.)

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Entertainment from Yesteryear

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When the waiting area at the Phoenix Baptist Hospital ED gets a tad tedious, visitors can walk to a museum that is just steps from the Arizona hospital's gift shop. The wall-to-wall displays are said to foster instant patient satisfaction with the kind of medicine practiced elsewhere at the institution. Rotating exhibits feature leech jars, antique enemas, and 150-year-old technology, such as an electrical contraption used to zap patients back to health. But the scariest item might be an archaic pack of cigarettes, bearing the promotional label “asthma cure.” (Phoenix New Times; http://bit.ly/1zq9WAG.)

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Don't Beam Him Up, Scotty

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In the re-released audio of his bestseller Shatner Rules: Your Guide to Understanding the Shatnerverse and the World at Large, William Shatner explains how the staff at a New York ED helped him boldly go where no man (evidently) has gone before. After a kidney stone sent him into spasms of pain, he was writhing on a gurney in the ED, and overheard an emergency physician or nurse remark that Captain Kirk was giving birth to a rock — of uric acid. That visual gave him an idea: What if he sold the product of his labor for charity? Would anyone buy it? Yep! Auctioned off, thousands of dollars went to Habitat for Humanity. (Shatner Rules by William Shatner and Chris Regan, audio version, 2014.)

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Are You Left Coast or Right Coast?

The periodic debate over whether the East Coast trumps the West for best quality of life has had a refueling, thanks to a new study. The findings appear to echo stereotypes for any emergency physician wondering what practice might be like in Boston. You're less likely to wear casual clothes to work without raising eyebrows, and you're also more likely to work with people who have traditional goals. But, in San Francisco, you'll probably get to wear sandals and be able to express yourself in offbeat or creative ways. The study author looked at what confers bliss, and it's not really dress style. On the East Coast, it's conventional values. Out West, it's individuality. Midwesterners, as usual, weren't included. (Daily Californian; http://bit.ly/16LFeLX.)

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New Weapon for Jellyfish Stings

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One of the typical hazards where sand meets sea is the ubiquitous jellyfish, which stings swimmers with venomous tentacles. Every emergency physician who has treated this agony knows the real pain comes from the release of the poison in tiny tubules, called nematocysts, which implant on contact with skin. But now comes a rescue tip from Richard Clark, MD, who (unsurprisingly) lives in San Diego. When onsite emergency care is needed, rinse the wound with seawater, and whip out a credit card, he advised. Gentle scraping with the same plastic you use for gas and groceries should do the trick, removing the nematocysts. “That's what I do when my kids get stung,” he said. (Via, March-April 2014.)

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Crankiness from Cafeteria Food?

The detrimental effects of trans fats have been well documented, but now investigators from the University of California, San Diego, have shown that high consumers of food like French fries are more prone to anger and aggression compared with people who have more nutritious meals. This seems to be bad news for those who dine at vending machines and on cafeteria fare, like, say, hospital staff who work in hurried situations. It gets worse. The researchers suggest the anger-linked effects go beyond the person who eats like this, affecting co-workers. FYI, watch out for lipid-based hostility. (http://bit.ly/1CMM01G.)

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The Dangers of Food Preparation

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What makes bagel-cutting one of the most dangerous acts of food preparation? A trio of three cognitive psychologists published an in-depth look at the human grasp in a recent issue of American Scientist. It encompassed seven pages, five charts, 14 photos, and a copy of Rembrandt's musket-flourishing portrait of “The Night Watch.” The researchers note, however, said their conclusions were drawn largely by “observing people carrying out everyday tasks.” They didn't address why nearly 2,000 people end up in the emergency department each year for slicing bagels, but concluded, “We've only begun to scratch the surface of this field.” (Amer Sci 2014;102:366.)

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Your Lab Coat is Ringing

It had to happen. Nano-lasers have become so tiny that wearable phone technology is being developed. In fact, it's been proposed for the garb of health care providers — lab coats and hospital scrubs. It'll be “robust, eco-friendly,” and printed right on the clothing, according to the lead researcher. Laundry settings not yet available. (Monash 2014;10:18.)

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