The Shaughnessy Report: Doing My Part for Medical Electronics


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If you’re like me, and most of you are, you’ve started getting mail from AARP. You exercise, because if you don’t, you feel like a fat slob. Your body hurts more often, and you just deal with the pain until it gets bad enough to go to the doctor. This is especially true for men; tough guys like us don’t like going to the doctor, unless we’ve actually severed an artery. Otherwise, we don’t need no stinkin’ doctors!

So when I first suspected I might have a hernia, I thought, “What is this thing poking through my stomach? I’ll just ignore it, and it will go away, like a noise in my car’s engine.” It hurt the most when I cut the grass on my riding mower, so I quit mowing the lawn. I liked that part!

But the pain didn’t go away.  Eventually, when the pain got worse, my fledgling men’s common sense kicked in and I visited my local sawbones. “Not a big deal. Just routine outpatient surgery,” the doctor opined. “You’ll be in and out in a couple of hours, with a cool scar to boot, and some great painkillers.”

The surgeon couldn’t operate on my timeline; it had to be the week before Thanksgiving, or right before Christmas. I picked the former, so I’d be more or less healed by Christmas.

On operating day, a nurse got me all prepped and ready for the scalpel. They gave me a shot of something similar to Valium (the Propofol came later), and wheeled my bed down the hall. All I could see were ceiling lights going by, just like on “House.”

Then we entered the operating room. The middle of the operating room was empty, because my rolling bed was going to be parked there. But the walls were ringed with dozens of beeping and pinging electronic monitors. I’ve never seen so many electronic devices together in my life. I saw one Agilent monitor, and a bunch of others with names I couldn’t make out. It reminded me of the IT room in most companies. I guess they had to be set up to handle routine surgery like mine, and the not-so-routine operations as well.

To read this entire article, which appeared in the January issue of The PCB Design Magazine, click here.

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