David Blaine and Apnea

The David Blaine holding-his-breath stunt is pretty amazing, and rather scary. It looks like he pulled it off with rigorous training, and lots of medical supervision. Time has a good wrap up in How David Blaine Held His Breath:

With or without pure oxygen, holding your breath is a difficult and dangerous pasttime even for elite athletes. When not done carefully, it can lead to drowning, or to potential tissue damage in the heart, brains or lungs. Preliminary results from Potkin’s research into apnea’s long-term effects show some abnormal brain scans among young, extreme free divers. There’s still much to learn about the phenomenon; as a medical student, Potkin recalls, he was told that no one could hold his breath for more than five minutes without suffering brain damage. Now, he wants to see if the technique can be used for medical purposes — and he’s hoping Blaine’s latest stunt provides the impetus for a greater scientific understanding of how to hold one’s breath.

Dr. Potkin is on staff at the Beverly Hills Center for Hyperbaric Medicine.

Have any of the RTs out there worked with people doing this kind of training?

I’d imagine when this goes wrong, it goes really wrong.

Oxygen + Smoking = Problem

Don’t do this please! Smoker, 90, critically burned as oxygen tank ignites

A 90-year-old Ypsilanti woman was criticially injured Thursday when the oxygen system she was using to breathe caught on fire while she was smoking.

Firefighters responded to the 400 block of West Michigan Avenue around 11:30 p.m. to find the woman and her couch on fire. The woman sustained second- and third-degree burns on most of her body and was taken to the University of Michigan Hospital. Her condition was unavailable Friday.

The woman was involved in a similar fire in May while she was smoking, but she was not hurt, firefighters said.

Damage at the apartment was estimated at about $1,000, firefighters said

NYT: Tracing Lung Ailments That Rose With 9/11 Dust

Tracing Lung Ailments That Rose With 9/11 Dust – New York Times
After nearly five years, it is still too early for these doctors, scientists and forensic pathologists to say with certainty whether any long-term cancer threat came with exposure to the toxic cloud unleashed by the trade center collapse. But there are already clear signs that the dust, smoke and ash that responders breathed in have led to an increase in diseases that scar the lungs and reduce their capacity to take in and let out air.

The Fire Department tracked a startling increase in cases of a particular lung scarring disease, known as sarcoidosis, among firefighters, which rose to five times the expected rate in the two years after Sept. 11. Though that rate has declined, doctors worry that the disease may be lurking in other firefighters. Experts who regularly see workers who were at ground zero in the 48 hours after the towers’ collapse expect monitoring to show many more cases of lung- scarring disorders among that group.

New evidence also suggests that workers who arrived later or worked on the periphery may also be susceptible to debilitating lung ailments.

San Diego RT; Sex Charges

This is a horrible, horrible story out of San Diego. It hurts me to even post about it on this blog, but the fact is it’s the story of an RT. This man’s conduct violates just about every code of professional conduct, hospital policy, law, and moral and ethical truth possible. The story makes me sick.

WTOP: Sex Abuse Charges Stun Hospital Staffers
SAN DIEGO (AP) – Camera phones are now banned at the Children’s Hospital and Health Center’s convalescent unit. The curtains around patients must be left open most of the time. And administrators are considering installing security cameras in patients’ rooms.

Bleyle, a 54-year-old respiratory therapist at San Diego’s Children’s Hospital, is charged two counts of molestation and 24 counts of child pornography involving children under his care. He is accused of molesting brain-damaged, comatose boys and girls, taking cell-phone photos of himself in the act, and posting them on the Internet.
The precautions were prompted by one man: Wayne Albert Bleyle, a respiratory therapist accused of molesting brain-damaged, comatose boys and girls, taking cell-phone photos of himself in the act, and posting them on the Internet.

“This is the worst case of child molestation imaginable,” prosecutor Laura Gunn said in court last week. “I don’t know if we’ve ever seen a case like it before where the victims were so vulnerable.”

Bleyle, 54, is in jail on $5 million bail after pleading not guilty to two counts of child molestation and 24 counts of child pornography. But Gunn said Bleyle molested many more patients over the past decade, preying on the hospital’s weakest of the weak, including youngsters who would never be able to speak.

New York Times on Ventilator Shortage for Bird Flu Crisis

This is all the talk of the AARC disaster preparedness mailing lists. Even I, so many years out of practice in the RT game feel like I could provide help with mechanical ventilation if bird flu hits in earnest. This is assuming of course, I myself am not put down by the flu!

Hospitals Short on Ventilators if Bird Flu Hits – New York Times
No one knows whether an avian flu virus that is racing around the world might mutate into a strain that could cause a human pandemic, or whether such a pandemic would cause widespread illness in the United States. But if it did, public health experts and officials agree on one thing: the nation’s hospitals would not have enough ventilators, the machines that pump oxygen into sick patients’ lungs.

Right now, there are 105,000 ventilators, and even during a regular flu season, about 100,000 are in use. In a worst-case human pandemic, according to the national preparedness plan issued by President Bush in November, the country would need as many as 742,500.

To some experts, the ventilator shortage is the most glaring example of the country’s lack of readiness for a pandemic.

Shiavo’s widow is an RT and RN

File this under famous RT’s: Terry Schiavo’s widow, Michael Schiavo, is a registered nurse and an RT. This article is about him catching heat for omissions on some job applications:

Oh, Oh, Schiavo—Another State Criminalizes Lying On Resume

Schiavo is licensed in Florida as a registered nurse and respiratory therapist.

Respiratory Therapy for President Ford

Former President Gerald Ford is getting some RT care for his pneumonia:

thedesertsun.com | Doctors to decide if Ford can go home
Doctors are “currently in the process of assessing” former President Gerald Ford to see if the 92-year-old can leave Eisenhower Medical Center, his chief of staff said this morning.

Ford has been in the Rancho Mirage hospital since Saturday, getting IV antibiotics and respiratory therapy to help him recover from pneumonia complications.

“He is doing well and continuing to respond to treatments,” Chief of Staff Penny Circle said this morning.

By late afternoon, Circle said he was getting “continuing respiratory therapy using treatment measures that are not easily available at home.”