At the radiologist's office, turning on the tube soon may mean more than powering up the magnetic resonance imaging machine.
Magnacoustics of Atlantic Beach, N.Y., in February plans to begin selling a television set designed especially for use by patients undergoing an MRI. For the past 12 years, the company has built audio systems for MRI patients, who must lie still for 30 minutes or more. The way the new TV set works is, a patient gets headphones and a pair of glasses with a mirror attached. The TV is placed so the images can slip through the MRI, hit the mirror and give the patient a little eye candy during an often claustrophobic procedure.
Magnacoustics developed the TV in a joint project with General Electric Co. Magnacoustics President Wayne Lederer doesn't want to give out too many secrets regarding the technology, but he was willing to say the trick in getting the TV to work was eliminating the cathode ray buzz from the screen and replacing all steel parts with aluminum and bronze. These steps had to be taken to ensure the video system didn't interfere with the MRI and vice versa.
The system costs $18,000, including $10,000 for the TV screen. Cable is an extra $25 a month.
Spin city. The American Medical Association is leaving nothing to chance in its spin on its scuttled sponsorship deal with Sunbeam Corp.
At its House of Delegates meeting in Dallas Dec. 8, the AMA staff led 20 members in a session on handling the press regarding Sunbeam. The staff's spiel emphasized that delegates should say the deal was done with the best of intentions but was not executed well, and the organization is making sure it won't happen again.
As a primer, AMA staff showed delegates a videotape featuring a South Carolina state police spokesman deftly handling an NBC interviewer asking about a police beating.
The staff also handed out a list of topics-like alcohol abuse and children's health-that delegates could discuss instead of the Sunbeam deal. Given that Sunbeam was the reason most reporters attended the House of Delegates' Dec. 7-10 meeting, many delegates weren't able to put that knowledge to use.
Sunbeam me up. Want to guess which brand of iron and hair dryer AMA delegates found in their Dallas hotel rooms?
Divine intervention. Physicians fed up with for-profit healthcare finally have realized the battle must be waged in the media, not the examining room.
When a group of Massachusetts healthcare workers re-enacted the Boston Tea Party last month (dumping overboard the annual reports of for-profit hospitals and other items), the event received extensive national print and television coverage.
Now, a group of Illinois physicians and legislators is trying to generate support for a constitutional amendment that would provide universal health coverage to all Illinoisans.
"We don't have anything as sexy as a tea party," says Jim Webster, M.D., a Chicago geriatrician and member of the Illinois Adhoc Committee to Defend Health Care. But the group was savvy enough to link the amendment with the universally beloved and admired late Chicago Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who died in 1996 following a bout with cancer.
Bernardin often spoke about healthcare as a universal right, and Illinois Rep. Michael Boland based the proposed Bernardin amendment on a pastoral letter the cardinal delivered in 1995.
"What a fitting way to honor Cardinal Bernardin, who was a voice of conscience, courage and compassion in the healthcare dialogue," says Illinois physician Quentin Young, president of the American Public Health Association.
It's also rather media savvy, the amendment's supporters admit, noting it would take a lot of chutzpah for anybody to badmouth Bernardin in Illinois.
Looking to the past. Physicians longing for medicine's good old days may find comfort in a new book by a Michigan State University professor. Then again, they may just be grossed out. The new book, Honey, Mud, Maggots and other Medical Marvels, written by Robert Root-Bernstein, an MSU professor of physiology, and Michele Root-Bernstein, a historian and writer, takes a look at ancient folk remedies that are making a modern-day comeback. Each chapter examines a medical remedy, such as the use of maggots or leeches, and explores how today's practitioners can incorporate the ancient practices in today's medicine.