April 30th, 2006: Philips Pulls Defibrillators Amid Wrongful Death Claims

I was watching West Wing tonight. Because of a scheduling issue, I actually get the real US feed, which I love because how different their culture is. Case in point: HeartStart Home. The ad shows an ambulance stuck in gridlock and talks about cardiac arrest stats. It's an ad for a home defibrillator. In other words, you keel over from a heart attack and someone shocks you into life. First my small problem: if you are in danger of a heart attack: CHANGE YOUR LIFE!!!!!!...! I had a moment of clarity about my weight well before I had a crisis. Since then, I've lost 40lbs. and I plan on losing 80 more: my goal is to do this at a speed that does more than change my waistline, but my attitude. If you walk into a store to buy HeadStart Home, something is wrong.
Coming from a background in first aid, I have to say that defibrillators are scary devices. If someone has a cardiac arrest, there is a small chance they will survive. Done right, the use of the defibrillator will raise the chance. Done wrong, it kills them. Defibrillators can kill people two ways. One: if you position it wrong, you send an arc of electricity through the body but miss the heart: holy leaping pectorals, the feller's still dead. Two: a lot of reasons put someone on the ground with that grey pallor. Of all of those reasons--stroke, allergic reaction, narcolepsy, blood clot, aneurism, etc.-- only one of them can be remedied with a defibrillator; defibrillators will instead electrocute the poor soul.
What I predict will happen? People will start to buy HeadStart Home this week. Boomers who loved their burgers, will spend their cash on this latest gadget. In about three months (January-Feburary) Christmas bills, winter snow shovelling and comfort food will take their toll. Some people will have a cardiac arrest. A subset of that group will own a defibrillator. Some of that set will use the defibrillator properly. The rest will freak out when they see their beloved corpse. They'll scramble for the defibrillator. They'll fumble to place the pads. Some squealing twentysomething will be shaking the corpse furiously. The person with the defibrillator will throw the switch and three things could happen. The twentysomething will get electrocuted. The corpse will get a fried liver or lung, but that heart will miss the current. Or, a poor guy with a lump of bread in his airway will be killed by the defibrillator when someone should have tried the Heimlich maneuver.
This will happen a few times-- enough to get onto the radar of the hairdos at NBC Dateline. They do some research and prep a piece for the late March of 2006. Lots of life saving stories; then the dark exceptions. People call their congressmen. Knees jerk across the nation. Defibrillator makers pull their home models in time to prove me right.


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