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Human Cadaver Training and the Issue of Ethics

For years, the use of human and animal models has provided medical students and licensed physicians with invaluable information and education. Cadavers have been used to educate medical students on human anatomy and to enable physicians to observe the body in a way that does not put a patient at risk. Cadaver training is essential to optimal patient outcomes and to the basics of the doctor-patient relationship. Even in light of years of evidence which points to the value of cadaver training, this area of medical education is somewhat controversial.

Alternatives to Cadaver Training

Historically, the alternative to human cadaver dissection and training has been the good old textbook. However, there could be no textbook content if cadaver training had not existed first. Additionally, one cannot know what it looks like or feels like to perform a surgical procedure or even a nonsurgical treatment on live human tissue by reading a textbook.

The more modern approach to teaching anatomical nuances is for students to conduct processes and procedures using virtual reality. Proponents for this way of learning warn of the ethical and safety issues of using human cadavers for bioskill training. We’d like to respond to common theories on these matters.

Ethical Questions Regarding Cadaver Procurement

Some say that there is an obscure industry in which vendors have profited from the sale of cut and intact human tissue for research purposes due to the fact that most states do not have laws against the sale or purchase of body parts. This sounds ominous and dark and is promoted in a way that may call into question the ethics of medical research. Med Ed Labs was established to assist professionals ranging from physicians to support staff to medical sales representatives […]

Cadavers Hold Value in the World of Aesthetic Medicine

A few decades ago, there was no such thing as aesthetic medicine. We had general surgeons, specialists, and plastic surgeons. To regain a more youthful appearance meant seeing a board-certified plastic surgeon for a facelift. Now, we not only have nuanced procedures such as neck lifts, eyelid lifts, and brow lifts but we also have a plethora of nonsurgical modalities from which patients can choose to address specific cosmetic concerns. Hence, the field of aesthetic medicine was born.

Once the development of nonsurgical treatments began, innovation has not stopped. At this time, we are seeing yet another dermal filler on the horizon. In the works by a subsidiary of Silk, Inc., this new filler differs from those that are currently popular in its active ingredient. Where many of the dermal fillers used today have a base ingredient of hyaluronic acid, this new filler, as you may have guessed, is made of silk. According to the developer, the product is made of pure silk protein in an Activated silk suspension.

Why would doctors consider another soft tissue filler option for their patients? Silk, Inc. is banking on values such as comfort, flexibility, and duration. The product’s maker believes that patients may have fewer and less intense side effects from the silk ingredient. Also, like the hyaluronic acid fillers used today, this new filler will provide the flexibility to treat various areas and achieve a range of timeframes for results, from 3 months to 2 years.

Where Cadavers Fit into All of This

Cadavers have been widely used for years in undergraduate and postgraduate educational programs. This method of training is recognized for its relevance to surgeons and other specialists but not so much for the value […]

Staying Up to Date with Patient Care Technology

The medical field experiences change at such a fast pace that it can be difficult to know what’s on the horizon, let alone what has recently become available. Our primary objective at Med Ed Labs is to help physicians and their teams remain at the forefront of medical innovation through bioskills training. At the same time, we know good technology has a place in patient care, as well. Here, we discuss an app that is helping hip and knee surgeons improve their patients’ surgical experience.

New apps are consistently being developed both in and out of medicine. Many of them come and go, and some make us sit up and take notice. The mymobility app from Zimmer Biomet is one that has done the latter. The mymobility app is designed with the patient in mind. It brings patient involvement to the forefront of care and not only empowers the person needing surgery but acts as a consistent support system for them as they prepare for surgery and recovery. 

How Patients Benefit

Healthcare is all about benefiting the patient in whatever way possible. Surgical repair of a hip or knee injury benefits the patient in one way, but creates stress in other ways. With the mymobility app, patients receive:

Direct Assistance

Surgeons who enroll in the mymobility app receive directive on how to then enroll qualified patients. In the office, a member of the surgical team staff enrolls the patient in mymobility. The patient then receives an email the instructs them on completing their account and paring devices. Once enrolled, patients are also guided in the use of the app as they prepare for their procedure and as they recover.

Consistent Communication

Every surgeon knows that it can be difficult to meet […]

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    Cadavers Facilitate the Ongoing Learning of Today’s Cardiac Surgeon

Cadavers Facilitate the Ongoing Learning of Today’s Cardiac Surgeon

In the September 2017 issue of the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Dr. Marc Pelletier and colleagues discussed the ways in which the field of cardiac surgery is rapidly evolving. One of the most significant and beneficial changes taking place is the widespread availability of interventional cardiac procedures. This singular transit from corrective to interventional is having a profound impact on how cardiologists provide care. This, in turn, is affecting the aspects of training a doctor needs to focus on in the foreseeable future.

Surgery as Art

Cardiac surgery requires comprehensive familiarity with the structural anatomy of the heart as well as with the artistry of cardiac interventions. Essentially, the cardiologist must have wiring skills that are above-average. Wiring skill is presented in almost every cardiac procedure and cannot be stressed enough. According to Pelletier and his colleagues, a cardiac surgeon should dedicate at least a few months of their initial training to wire skills. Beyond this, ongoing education remains a critical aspect of high-level patient care.

Simulation

There aren’t many medical specialties in which there is no mention of simulation as a beneficial means of continued education. What needs to be considered is the value of the various types of simulation available today. Due to immense improvement in digital fidelity, there has been a large push to integrate virtual reality simulators into medical education. As convenient as virtual reality is, and as detailed as this technique has become, there are limitations that cannot be overcome in the digital realm. The cardiac surgeon needs ongoing training that mimics real-world practice as much as possible. The best way to achieve this has been and quite possibly may always be to engage in cadaver training. Cadavers continue to provide […]

Train Smarter, Not Harder

For the medical professional, training is a never-ending process. Surgical techniques are constantly changing. New devices and products are continually being developed, even the administrative and collaborative aspects of medicine do not stay the same from year to year. Fortunately, there is one thing we can always count on (and you know we never say “always”): the human body.

Med Ed Labs has been established to provide surgeons with the most accurate medical training they can get. This is working smarter, not harder. Studies show that, even in light of advanced virtual reality technology, the greatest value in medicine continues to be found in the human cadaver lab. Physicians and other medical professionals don’t just want to develop and advance their skills, they want to do so with reference to the real-life tissues they will handle in the clinical setting.

Professionals who have used one of the nationwide training labs we put together come from all walks of medicine, including gynecology, neurosurgery and neurology, orthopedic, head and neck surgery, spinal surgery, urology, dental, arthroscopic surgery and more. Why? Because each and every one of these specialties provide treatment on living, human tissue and there is no better way to get insightful information than to engage in training on cadavers.
Training smarter means:

Refining skills. It is an unspoken expectation of every patient that their clinical provider has the necessary skills to provide their treatment. It doesn’t matter if that treatment involves a few injections or a surgical procedure on the brain, heart, or other vital organs. Studies have shown that medical professionals who have trained in a cadaver lab hold a high degree of confidence in their clinical abilities and can thus communicate this to their patients, […]

Strategies for Reducing Medical Errors in Patient Care

According to a Johns Hopkins analysis of the medical death rate during an eight-year period, more than 250,000 deaths a year could be attributed to medical error. Each year, great strides are made in the medical community to improve patient safety. Continued research and development are necessary not only in hospitals but also in public and private medical practices. Here, we discuss a few strategies that are being implemented to achieve this.
Encourage a culture of reliability.
First and foremost, it is vital that the medical community develop an environment in which accountability is encouraged. The line here is that it is far too easy to lean to a “punishment” type of environment in which medical providers are actually discouraged from accurate reporting. The rule of proper accountability is to focus on behaviors rather than care providers.
Reliability is also a cornerstone of adequate medical care, and there may be no better way to achieve the highest standards of reliability than for each medical provider to have an in-depth familiarity with human anatomy. Training is something that never stops for the medical professional. Med Ed Labs has been established to support physicians and staff in their quest to improve quality of care while simultaneously reducing the risk of medical errors. Although numerous VR platforms have been developed to assist medical students in their training, they are not and should not be perceived as a substitute for human cadaver training.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration
In just about every instance of patient care, there is a chain. Where there is a handoff of patient care from one provider to another, communication will always be a critical point; one at which medical errors could happen. Quality assurance experts have observed positive […]

It’s Diabetes Awareness Month

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. With Type I and Type II diabetes affecting more than 30 million Americans, and Type II diabetes making up over 90% of diagnosed cases, it’s safe to say that this chronic health condition is a medical crisis for folks in our country. However, because it is so common and not as immediately life-threatening as cancer, diabetes does not get the attention it deserves. We want to shed some light on the various ways in which abnormal blood sugar levels can degrade just about every part of the body.
The Circulatory System
Multiple studies have confirmed that elevated blood sugar can damage large and small blood vessels throughout the body. This may be referred to as macrovascular disease or microvascular disease. Complications of diabetes-related blood vessel damage include stroke, heart attack, vein disease, and more. Because the blood vessels carry oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body, circulatory issues secondary to diabetes may cause nerve, kidney, and eye problems. More recent research even points to diabetes as a potential contributing factor to erectile dysfunction.
The Cardiovascular System
The cardiovascular system is affected when excess sugar in the blood causes blood vessels to become more rigid. The loss of elasticity in the blood vessels leads to the accumulation of fatty deposits, which narrows the blood vessels and arteries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults with diabetes have a 200 to 400% higher risk for heart disease and stroke as do people with normal blood sugar levels.
The Nervous System
It is well-known that uncontrolled diabetes creates a risk for nerve damage, or neuropathy. This, like many other conditions, relates to the degradation of healthy blood vessels secondary to diabetes. The Centers […]

The Role of Gamification in Modern Day Medical Training

Gaming and medicine are not two concepts we would normally put together. However, so much has changed in the methodology of medical training over the years that we are now in the era of virtual reality and online systems. Gamification is the term which describes the process of harvesting characteristics of traditional games and applying them to a non-game setting. This concept is increasing in popularity among medical schools as a way to increase student engagement beyond lectures and textbooks. Here, we look at three ways in which gamification is currently being utilized.
Healthy Competition
Several years ago, a professor at the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine developed a multiple-choice quiz game that could be played online. This game let students test their clinical knowledge of internal medicine and even earn “badges” for quizzing themselves daily. Since this early use of gaming in medicine, the quiz-technique has expanded into other areas of medicine, including obstetrics and gynecology and emergency medicine. Students play independently or in teams, and can play against one another or a “digital opponent.”
Virtual Reality Emergency Situations
Students at Stanford University School of Medicine may be exposed to a mass casualty experience thanks to a virtual reality “game.” This experience offers the student user 10 points within the storyline at which they choose a triage category and determine the appropriate intervention for their patient. Points are earned based on their response to their selected triage category.
Escaping as a Team
Escape rooms have sprouted up all over the country, offering people the opportunity to complete tasks and solve puzzles to find their way to freedom – all in the name of fun, of course. Recently, a group of residents and a faculty member at Thomas […]

Where Virtual Reality Fits in Modern Medicine

Virtual reality represents the massive potential of innovative technology; so significant, in fact, that we have come to rely on virtual reality more than we may even imagine. In recent years, the medical field has been inundated with the positive aspects of virtual reality in our work and our patients’ lives. It may be assumed that, as a medical training organization dedicated to the continued use of human specimens, we have our misgivings about the integration of virtual reality into medicine. Not so. Here, we discuss a few of the areas in which VR is changing lives for the better.
Virtual Reality in the Healthcare Industry
Pain Management
There seems to be a prevalence of chronic pain and other instances in which pain management is paramount these days. In particular, virtual reality has proven beneficial for burn victims. In this instance, VR is used as a form of distraction therapy during wound care and physical therapy sessions. According to reports, patients playing entertaining VR games during these sessions are able to tolerate their treatment exceptionally well thanks to the blocking of pain pathways in the brain.
Stroke Recovery
It is well-understood that stroke and traumatic brain injury patients are under a time-crunch in terms of rehabilitation. The sooner that this begins, the more likely the patient is to regain the functions that were impaired by their injury or event. Innovative use of virtual reality is helping patients discover new ways to move fingers and limbs. Ultimately, the experience with VR leads patients to greater optimism and resiliency, through which the nervous system is better able to recover.
Exposure Therapy
For individuals being treated for anxiety, PTSD, and phobias, virtual reality holds particular value. Using VR, therapists can create triggering scenarios in […]

Mobile App Provides Assistance in Emergency Situations

Medical professionals are nearly always “on,” even when off the clock. The instances of physicians acting in a volunteer role are high, and this presents unique challenges that may affect the outcome of urgent medical support. Here, we discuss how a new mobile app is improving the way care is provided in unexpected situations.

It is safe to say that, even with the extensive training they receive, most healthcare professionals are not familiar with the protocols and the resources available to achieve emergency stabilization in settings such as air travel. According to one study, which was presented at the annual meeting of The Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, physicians who used technology during practice simulations of in-flight medical emergencies performed with greater confidence and efficacy.

In the study by Jump Simulation in collaboration with the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria, physicians used the airRx mobile app. This app is currently the only point-of-care technology designed to handle in-flight medical events. The app presents 23 of the most common emergency situations that occur, including the roles of the flight crew and medico-legal implications for health care professionals who volunteer to assist.

The study took place in a mockup setting in which patients, flight attendants, family members, and passengers were portrayed by actors. Participating physicians, who had no emergency training, were placed into two groups: one that had the availability of the airRx app, and one that had no external assistance. Physician volunteers were rated by trained observers who measured performance using a Critical Action Checklist. Additionally, physicians reported their sense of confidence before and after their simulations.

On both fronts, physicians who used the mobile app faired better than those who did not. The trained observers rated […]