So the next time you're having surgery, will it be "Finding Nemo" or "You've Got Mail?" Either might be fine, but probably not "Nightmare on Elm Street."
A researcher has found that watching movies can be as effective as regional anesthetic during minor surgeries, reducing or even eliminating the need for medication in certain cases.
Akash Bajaj, associate professor at Harbor-University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, last week released results of a study he conducted on surgery patients given regular anesthesia and those who were fitted with a pair of goggles on which they could watch a movie of their choice on DVD.
Although both groups were comfortable during surgery, the "movie-goers" used less medication than the regular patients did, he says. Several of the patients watching films had no elevation in heart rate and required no anesthesia at all.
Bajaj says patients were reminded the night before surgery to either bring in their favorite DVD or pick from his own film library, which was purposefully stocked with love stories, movies with people overcoming obstacles, films with happy endings and animated features.
"Most patients preferred the animation films," Bajaj says. "That's good news because the next phase (is a trial) with a pediatric population."
They won't be anesthetized, but healthcare workers at an upcoming retreat in Oklahoma will spend time drumming, listening and maze-walking.
"A Day of Listening" is sponsored by Mercy Health Center and Catholic Charities in Oklahoma City. The annual retreat adopts a dif- ferent theme each year, says Glenda Bronson, Mercy's health ministry outreach coordinator. This year's theme came about because "sometimes we don't stop and listen," a practice that can help healthcare workers deal with the stress of their jobs and provide better care, Bronson says.
Sessions include instruction on how to use drumming to attain a range of emotions, from deep relaxation or extraordinary aliveness, and on exploring the roots of healthcare and its links to spirituality. Maze-walking kicks off the retreat using Mercy's recently built labyrinth.
Says Bronson: Healthcare employees "don't get a lot back sometimes. They need to be nurtured and taken care of."
Not everyone was tickled pink about using St. Louis' Gateway Arch to promote Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The National Park Service, which runs the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which features the city's icon, was initially lukewarm about bathing the arch in pink light to support the cause. The service was worried that other more controversial groups might want to use national monuments in support of their cause.
"Our concern was about the precedent being set," says a spokesman for the service. "Our policy was we didn't feel comfortable doing this."
However, the president signed a bill-introduced by U.S. Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.), whose mother died of breast cancer-authorizing the lighting of the 630-foot arch, which was pink for one night last week. After the bill became law, the service released a statement from Director Fran Mainella saying the service would "follow the intent of the law."
Not exactly UNOS
The flap over an online organ donation continues, with the donor volunteering to take a lie detector test to prove he did not sell his kidney to a man needing a transplant.
As Outliers reported Oct. 25 (p. 36), Bob Hickey, a patient with kidney disease at Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center in Denver, hooked up with a part-time photographer in Chattanooga, Tenn., named Rob Smitty through MatchingDonors.com, which involves paying a fee for the match. Smitty donated a kidney to Hickey after doctors at Presbyterian at first balked at doing the operation. They later relented, but hospitals officials indicated they would be unlikely to repeat the adventure.
Both men have said there was no payment for the kidney, which would be a violation of federal law. There are no laws against soliciting an organ, but the United Network for Organ Sharing, which matches patients and donors based on regional availability and patient need, has criticized the approach for the fees involved and for bypassing the traditional system.
"I'm being treated like garbage by the media and I haven't even committed a crime," says the 32-year-old Smitty.
Smitty says Hickey has written him checks totaling $3,050 to help cover expenses and to compensate for the time he has missed work. Smitty says he's unsure how much additional compensation he would get.
After the transplant, news surfaced that Smitty was being sought on a civil warrant for failing to pay child support and would attend a court hearing on his $8,100 in unpaid child support and medical payments.
"I've had cuffs put on me before and I may have them put on me again," he says. "I think it'll make them look bad to put a man who just donated a kidney in jail."
" `Niche hospitals' now are buzzwords for people who are skimming profits from (traditional community) hospitals. They've become the dog that everyone likes to kick. (They're portrayed as) like al-Qaida ... the terrorists of healthcare."-William Kennedy, an executive with NovaMed, one of the unloved niche providers, during a conference in Chicago last week that focused on the future of ambulatory surgery centers.