Check Up September 2010

Pain Management, September 2010, Volume 3, Issue 6

A collection of news updates and top stories focused on one specific condition. A quick paragraph to catch up on the news from the past month.

Pain Beat That’s Not a Headache…

A German man who thought he was undergoing surgery to remove a cyst learned that he had been living as long as six years with a .22-caliber slug lodged deep in his scalp. As reported by USA Today, the 35-year-old construction worker was taken by surprise by the discovery and could only remember a vague situation where he felt something had hit him in the head. The event that would lead to the bullet getting stuck in his scalp may have occurred around 2004 or 2005 on New Year’s Eve, the article reports. The man claimed remembering that something had hit him in the back of the head that hurt, but he was drunk at the time. The bullet never penetrated his scalp and authorities guessed it may have been lodged there as a result of a bullet being shot straight up into the air and landing, unfortunately, on his head.

New Trend in Behavior Correction

A few editions back, we highlighted an item that appeared on about the U.S. testing a pain ray in Afghanistan; the ray was being evaluated as a possible tool for crowd-calming. Turns out, the trend is catching on, with a Los Angeles prison picking up on the idea. The Pitchess Detention Center in Los Angeles is currently installing the Assault Intervention device, which emits a nonlethal laser beam. According to an item featured on, the laser was first tested out by wardens on themselves. One of the wardens quoted in the write-up, Commander Bob Osborne, describes the sensation as “opening an oven door and feeling that blast of hot air, except instead of being all over me, it’s more focused.” Learn more and watch the accompanying video at

What’s in that Envelope?

A letter arriving at the Division of Professional Registration in Jefferson City, MT, caused quite a panic when an employee opened it to find a crushed powder substance. According to the CBS affiliate station KRCG 13, the area was immediately isolated and a hazmat team was called in to investigate. The female employee who opened the letter had suffered a skin reaction, but simply washed her hands and did not later suffer a reaction.

It turns out; the substance was a crushed-up prescription pain reliever. The motive remains unclear.

Arthritis “Treatment” Lands Woman in Jail

Eating gin-soaked raisins is one of the many alternative medicine remedies that some arthritis sufferers have begun incorporating into their treatment regimens, with some swearing by it ( But it’s important to remember safety whenever trying a new treatment, something it seems one woman from Pennsylvania may have forgotten. As reported by CBS, a 59-year-old woman from PA was sentenced to jail time after being pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. The woman, Judy Russo, was accused of violating her probation, but claimed it was her gin-soaked raisins that she used to treat her arthritis that was the cause of the alcohol levels. Russo’s attorney is asking that her sentence be reduced to probation.

Pain Treatment as a Fundamental Human Right

The first annual International Pain Summit in Montreal brought together pain experts from around the globe to discuss all matters associated with pain. For the first time, delegates from the various countries issued a declaration that “pain management is a fundamental human right” ( Among the recommendations proposed by the declaration was that all:

-Have a right to access pain management without discrimination.

-Have a right to be both informed about how their pain can be assessed through the recording of a fifth vital sign, and informed about the possibilities for treatment.

-Have a right to access an appropriate range of effective pain management strategies supported by policies and procedures appropriate for the particular setting of health care and the health professionals employing them.

-Have a right to be recognized as having a disease entity, requiring access to management akin to other chronic diseases

Governments and all healthcare institutions establish laws, policies and systems that will help promote—not inhibit—access to pain management.


More Problems with Social Media in Hospitals

When a man is brought to the hospital after being stabbed 12 times and nearly decapitated by a fellow nursing home resident, protocol typically dictates that hospital staff take pictures of the man and post them to Facebook…or the complete opposite of that; we haven’t read Standard Operating Procedure: Hospital Edition lately so we’re not sure.

How Will Location-based Services Like Foursquare Impact Healthcare?

If you’ve been following the social media trends over the last year or so, you’ve probably at least heard about location-based social media applications such as Foursquare, GoWalla, and, most recently, Facebook Places. For those who are not familiar with these programs, consider this a location-based social networking 101.


Human Genome a Bust Says Human Genome Sequencer

Craig Venter, whose firm Celera battled the Human Genome Project in a race to become the first to sequence the human genome, says that the ethical debates over abuse of genetic data are unfounded because “if anything, we don’t really know how to read the genome and it can’t tell us very much right now…We couldn’t even be certain from my genome what my eye color was.” Venter, speaking with Der Spiegel, largely blames “false expectations” about what the science and healthcare communities would be able to do with the information once the human genome was decoded. What we are able to take away from the human genome, says Venter, are probabilities, but increased risk is not all that clinically useful. The medical benefits of the Human Genome Project thus far, he says, are “close to zero to put it precisely.” But far from being pessimistic about genomic research, Venter says that the future is bright as we gain more and more information that can be put to good use, to educate people about their “personal risks and reduce them through intelligent behavior.”

Facing a Malpractice Suit? Just Buy a Medical Expert

What happened when the findings of independent radiologists were put up against those of “four plaintiff expert witnesses” involved in a medicolegal case? Surprisingly (or not, depending on how you view the inner workings of the world) two of three “findings made by the expert witnesses…were made by none of the 31 radiologists in the study.” ( Oh well. No big deal. It’s not like their testimony decides anyone’s fate or anything.

Tools for Patient Care:

45 Free Medical

Mobile Apps

When an eight-year-old child came into the emergency room unable to breathe and experiencing seizures due to a rare hereditary disease, Dr. Kathy Corby put her iPhone to good use. The emergency room physician at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital flipped through seven medical apps to help her identify appropriate medication, and proper respiratory management protocol, and determine whether the weather would permit the child to be transported via helicopter to another hospital once stable. Though the story ( does not specify which apps Dr. Corby used, Fierce has put together three slideshows listing 15 free mobile medical apps for BlackBerry, the iPhone, and Android that you can put to good use in your own practice. You can also check out the App Wrap on page 11.

Chart the Evidence!

The creators of want to help students and scientists “glean evidence from the research literature, articulate theories, and consider whether each piece of evidence supports or undermines” a given theory through the use of “a compact representation of the evidence.” Dealing with a difficult treatment decision could be made easier by lining up the evidence next to competing theories and indicating how strongly a theory opposes or confirms it.

For Your Emotional Enrichment:

Danny and Annie

StoryCorps recorded these conversations recounting the 27-year relationship of Brooklyn couple Danny and Annie Perasa as Danny faces mortality in his battle with an ultimately terminal cancer. We tear up over here at MDNG just writing about it, so have a tissue handy when you decide to watch.

Yay Maps!

Dimensions — How Big Is it Really?

The devastating floods that occurred in Pakistan this summer might be some of the worst ever recorded, but it’s tough to get a true feel for how massive they really were just from news reports. BBC Dimensions attempts to quantify it by overlaying the affected area “onto a map of where you are.” By entering our zip code, we can see that if such an event happened here, the floods would stretch from Maine to South Carolina, and cover half of Virginia and North Carolina, and completely submerge Maryland, New Jersey, and Vermont. You can also overlay events and objects in other fields of study including space, depths, ancient worlds, festivals and spectacles, the industrial age, and cities in history.

Radical Cartography

Bill Rankin has created some fantastic projects that represent everything from national rail infrastructure and land claims in the arctic, to income donuts of various US cities and the distribution of agriculture and livestock across the world. His illustration of the “true” shape of continents compared to their two-dimensional representations is particularly interesting.


He’s All that and a Box of Legos

Nathan Sawaya quit his law practice to become a master lego builder and now uses a collection of over 1.5 million Lego pieces to build amazing structures in his New York City studio like Han Solo frozen in carbonite or soldiers raising the American flag on Iwo Jima.

Eye Candy

We’re a visual tribe here at MDNG, and to you we bring these gifts:

All the Colors in the Visible Spectrum Captured in the Sky

Color Images Taken between 1939 and 1943 by Photographers of the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information to Document “The effects of the Depression on America’s Rural and Small Town Populations.”