Baxter dialysis filters blamed for worldwide
While insisting deadly product flaws can’t be proven, Baxter International admitted on Nov. 5 that there “may” be a link between a fluid used during the manufacture of its Series A, AF and AX dialyzers, and the deaths of over 50 patients treated between August and October in Spain, Croatia, Taiwan, Columbia and the United States.

The dialyzers were made in Ronneby, Sweden by Althin Medical AB, a company acquired by Baxter last year. They represented 30 percent of Baxter’s dialyzer production and about $30 million in annual revenues. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Baxter initiated a voluntary recall in mid-October that included: Series A11, A15, A18 and A22; Series AF150, AF180 and AF220; and Series AX1500 and AX2200 dialyzers labeled either Althane or Baxter. They have been sold in more than 50 countries since Jan. 1998.

The fluid suspected in the deaths is 5070, a perfluorohydrocarbon compound. It is used to test for leaks.

FDA recommends pediatric CT changes
Research, reported in the March 2001 24×7 Browser, that raised concern over the radiation dose administered to children during computed tomography imaging studies prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to issue a public health notification to the industry on Nov. 2, advising radiology departments to scrutinize current pediatric imaging practices.

Reads the FDA’s statement, “This Notification is to emphasize the importance of keeping radiation doses during CT procedures as low as reasonably achievable, especially for pediatric and small adult patients, who may sometimes receive more radiation than needed to obtain diagnostic images. To prevent this, we want to stress the importance of adjusting CT scanner parameters appropriately for each individual’s weight and size, and for the anatomic region being scanned.”

The problem stems from using the default adult techniques programmed into CT scanners, instead of locally-developed technique charts that factor varying patient sizes and composition.

Community of Caring

imageWhile it may be slightly safer underground than above, the Web Worm is boning up on bioterrorism just the same. If you work in healthcare you know education is the best weapon in a medical emergency and all hospital employees need to be ready for worst-case scenarios. And who may be the most prepared? Your local medical librarian.

The slithering surfer linked to the Medical Library Association’s Community of Caring site. It was developed to give librarians resources so they could answer questions about the September 11 attacks. It reflects the outpouring of messages of compassion and support circulating through the close-knit medical library community.

websiteMost useful is the Resources portion of the site, which provides a list of practical bioterrorism hyperlinks to a variety of military, medical and humanitarian sources. It also includes a listing of print resources about bioterrorism and chemical warfare, various sources of information specifically for parents and children and links to relief agencies.

The techno-savvy peat muncher knows medical librarians are a great resource, for much more than just current concerns, and the MLA site has lots of valuable stuff. There’s a section on accreditation that, while it’s oriented towards the information professional set, has plenty for anyone anticipating a JCAHO visit. There’s a great guide to creating a publicity campaign (to promote “Worm Week”?), hyperlinks to libraries, and a style manual that’ll help our slithering scribbler please his long-suffering editor.

Best of all, since it’s on the Web, you don’t have to whisper.

Community of Caring

TregerRegional Biomed Shows Continue to Shine
Cragun’s Resort, on the shore of Gull Lake near Brainerd, Minn., was the site of the North Central Biomedical Association symposium on Sept. 6-7. In a clear indication of recent industry changes, Philips Cardiac and Monitoring Systems gave away a VCR as a door prize instead of the usual Hewlett Packard pocket computer.

The keynote speaker was 24×7 editor Bob Larkin who invoked the spirit of Minnesota’s pro wrestler-turned-governor, Jesse Ventura, and proclaimed, “Biomeds are the Navy SEALs of technology; we can fix anything and when we’re finished, nobody knows we were there!”

Further down the Mississippi, the collected Biomedical Associations of Wisconsin (BAW) met in the riverside city of La Crosse during Oct. 10-12. There was a great turnout with 95 registrants and 34 exhibitors. Ode Keil of Safety Management Services gave an interesting keynote speech on the changing landscape of healthcare technology support.

You Gotta Love It!
The Marriage of Science and Fun
What do you get when you combine a half-dozen Nobel laureates, the world’s shortest wedding ceremony, dozens of people sporting Joseph Stalin masks and an endless supply of paper airplanes? That’s right, kids. It’s time for the Ig Nobel Awards.

For those of you not in the know, the Ig Nobels are the annual awards handed out by the mock scientific journal, the Annals of Improbable Research (the journal of record for inflated research and personalities.) The annual presentation ceremony on the campus of Harvard University is notorious for its chaotic humor and this year’s installment certainly did not disappoint.

Marc Abrahams, editor of the Annals, hosted the mayhem in his usual Groucho Marx regalia, surrounded by a cast of hilarious helpers. Throughout the night, the human spotlight (a woman painted head-to-toe in silver paint with a flashlight) illuminated the events and five interpreters translated the ceremony into foreign languages for the first five minutes — all at one time into the same microphone.

2001 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
Medicine — Dr. Peter Barss of McGill University for his research work titled “Injuries Due to Falling Coconuts.”

Physics — Professor David Schmidt of the University of Massachusetts for his research into why shower curtains billow inwards.

Biology — Buck Wiemer of Pueblo, Colo. For his invention of Under-Ease, airtight underwear with a charcoal filter to cleanse noxious gasses before they escape.

Economics — Professor Joel Slemrod of the University of Michigan Business School and Wojchiech Kopsxuk of the University of British Columbia for their work “Dying to Save Taxes: Evidence from Estate Tax Returns on the Death Elasticity” in which they hypothesized that human life could be naturally extended if there was a year in which people were not required to pay estate taxes.

Literature — John Richards of Boston, England, founder of The Apostrophe Protection Society, for his efforts to protect, promote and defend the differences between plural and possessive.

Psychology — Lawrence W. Sherman of Miami University, Ohio, for his influential research report “An Ecological Study of Glee in Small Groups of Preschool Children.”

Astrophysics — Dr. Jack and Rexella Van Impe of Jack Van Impe Ministries, Rochester Hills, Mich., for their discovery that black holes fulfill all the technical requirements to be the location of Hell.

Peace — Viliumas Malinauskus of Grutas, Lithuania, for creating the amusement park known as Stalin World.

Technology — Awarded jointly to John Keogh of Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia, for patenting the wheel in the year 2001, and to the Australian Patent Office for granting him Innovation Patent #2001100012 for the wheel.

Public Health — Chittaranjan Andrade and B.S. Srihari of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, India, for their discovery that nose picking is a common activity among adolescents. (“Some people put their nose in other people’s business, but I put my business in other peoples’ noses.” – C. Andrade.)

Schein adds to dental bite
Henry Schein, Inc. (Melville, N.Y.) announced on Nov. 5 that it acquired the full-service dental distribution operations of Zila, Inc. and will merge them into Sullivan-Schein Dental.

“Zila’s dental sales professionals have an excellent reputation in the industry, and we look forward to these talented people joining the Sullivan-Schein Dental team. This acquisition increases our presence in certain key geographies including Kentucky — where the Zila presence is particularly strong, West Virginia, Northern California, and Houston, Texas,” said Jim Breslawski, president, Sullivan-Schein Dental.

Ten service technicians are expected to join Sullivan-Schein, which intends to continue operating Zila’s sales and service center in Kentucky, and merge centers in California and Texas into current facilities.

McDonough picks up x-ray reloader
McDonough Medical Products Corp. of Deerfield, Ill. continued its expansion drive with an agreement in October to purchase Vision Imaging Components LLC (Arlington, Texas), the X-ray tube loading company currently owned by Cassling Diagnostic Imaging Inc. of Omaha, Neb. The reloader will become part of North American Imaging (NAI), which McDonough acquired in July.

Vision Imaging Components has eight employees at its Arlington facility and markets its products in the U.S. and internationally. McDonough said there are no plans to make any changes to the Texas operation or to relocate the business. “It is our intent to continue that facility there,” added McDonough CEO Ed McDonough.

RatnerRatner joins NETECH
Industry veteran Martin J. Ratner became president of biomedical test equipment manufacturer NETECH (Hicksville, N.Y.) on Nov. 1 and has acquired partial ownership in the company.

Prior to joining NETECH, Ratner was Vice President of Victoreen and General Manager of Nuclear Associates for almost 18 years.

Ratner shared his ambitious plans with 24×7. “My one and only goal as president of NETECH is to implement the changes needed to propel the company into a leadership position in the markets that we service,” he said. “Aggressive new product development plans, expansion into new markets, creative sales and marketing programs for end users, dealers/distributors and OEMs are just a few of the many exciting changes the market can look forward to from NETECH.”

Former Agilent settles into Philips family
What used to be the Healthcare Solutions Group (HSG) of Agilent Technologies officially became part of Royal Philips Electronics (Best, The Netherlands) on Aug. 1 in a $1.7 billion deal. Since then, Philips has striven to integrate the former HSG, still called “H-P” by most people in the healthcare technology business, as well as Philips’ previous acquisitions: ATL, ADAC Laboratories and Medcare (with Marconi soon to follow.)

“It will be an evolution over the next 12 to 24 months. This is a massive effort,” said Steve Rusckowski, HSG’s former senior vice president and general manager. “We’re talking about a $6 to $7 billion company [Philips], combining five different companies into one. It is a significant effort across the globe and across these various businesses.”

Rusckowski is still in Andover as CEO of Philips’ new Cardiac and Monitoring Systems (CMS) business, which includes cardiac and patient monitoring product lines.

Microsoft reprieves MCSE
Quietly bowing to public pressure, Microsoft dropped its plan to retire the credentials of more than 367,000 Microsoft Certified Systems Engineers who were tested when Windows NT 4.0 was the company’s lead product. Instead of losing certification at the end of this year, MCSEs for NT 4.0 will keep their title “indefinitely” according to Microsoft’s Oct. 11 announcement. Almost 50,000 technicians will be able to use the new title of “MCSE for Windows 2000”, including many technicians who paid to retrain and retest on that product when Microsoft announced last year that Windows 2000 proficiency would be required to maintain MCSE status. A new certification, Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator is now being promoted by the software giant as the preferred credential for Windows 2000 networks.

Unfors scores global Philips x-ray nod
Philips Medical Systems (PMS of Best, The Netherlands) announced a three-year contract on Aug. 1 to use Unfors Mult-O-Meter non-invasive X-ray test equipment throughout Philips’ worldwide service organization.

The selection was made after a year of tests run under the guidance of the International PMS Tool Committee. Evaluations were conducted at Philips manufacturing sites, and at the company’s Professor Holst Center for Training and Education in Best.

In its evaluation, Philips reported: “The Unfors Instruments Mult-O-Meter concept surpasses its competition when it comes to ease of use and offers a very competitive price/performance relation.”

All PMS offices worldwide will be supported by Unfors, which is based in Billdal, Sweden, and is represented in the U.S. by Unfors Inc. of New Milford, Ct.

To purchase the full text of Browser articles, click here…