Healthcare Business News

Outliers: Just be careful with that scalpel

By Modern Healthcare
Posted: December 22, 2012 - 12:01 am ET

“Earthquake Surgery” would be a good title for Outliers' next (and first) rock album, and—while performing surgeries during earth-shaking tremors is not advised—being able to complete post-quake surgery now appears to be possible.

The California Seismic Safety Commission and the University of California San Diego built an 80-foot-high, five-story building—complete with surgery suite, intensive-care unit and working elevator—on a “shake table” designed to simulate motions from some of the most severe earthquakes recorded. The building was outfitted with 500 sensors and 80 cameras providing 500 to 600 “channels of data,” and on April 17, they simulated an earthquake similar to one that occurred in the Los Angeles area in 1994 (6.7 on the Richter scale) and a stronger one (8.8) that took place in Chile in 2010.

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Thanks to base isolators—basically giant rubber shock absorbers—there was only minor superficial damage to the building, no structural damage and officials declared that the ICU and OR were able to function after the simulated quake. Upcoming tests include taking out the base isolators and performing the simulated quakes again as well as setting the building on fire.

Some people have a lot of fun at work.

The downsides to the $5 million experiment include the revelation that only about 30 buildings in California are equipped with base isolators and that new restrictions on state taxing powers may be putting the commission's $1.3 million budget in jeopardy.

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