Tour D’Iridia 2015: it has begun!

Today is the official start of Second Tour D’Iridia! This year, we are doing things a little differently. Instead of having Michael on his bicycle, we have Edward and our newest staff member Fidelia visiting sites in the Okanagan.

Tour Sticker

Last year, we rode on a bike, this year, we are in an SUV, namely our Iridia car ‘Little Red’. As a result, we’ve planned on visiting a few more locations, here is the schedule:

Day 1 – September 16th

Day 2 – September 17th

Day 3 – September 18th

 

At each stop we will be meeting with people who are responsible for the AED, and ensuring that the device is fully operational. During this trip, we will be documenting all of the site visits and we’ll be posting these shots on our social media pages.

If you’d like to stay up to date, make sure to join us on our Facebook page where all the action will be happening!

Our Medical Education Platform Expands!

Medical Education

We are excited to announce the newest update to our medical education programs: The new Learning Studio!

During the summer and fall of 2014, Iridia Medical worked on finding a dedicated space to host educational programs. The new classroom is located near our headquarters and is dedicated entirely to our educational programs. With an open classroom design and two breakout rooms for group work, we’ve created an optimal learning environment. Additionally, the space features an office for instructor privacy and a kitchen for student comforts.

The self-contained space is a great example of one of the many innovative advances our Education Department has showcased for the New Year.

Medical Education at IridiaMedical Education Stats

Iridia Medical provides engaging, practical emergency medical training to healthcare personnel and lay rescuers. Rooted in best practices, content is delivered by highly experienced medical professionals, who balance learner skill, knowledge, and experience.

Our courses and workshops meet and exceed all recommendations from:

Medical Education Recommendations

To provide the highest quality medical education, all of our workshops can be customized to meet your organization’s targeted educational needs and booked for private groups across British Columbia.

To view the schedule, please visit our website, www.iridiamedical.com or contact us directly to discuss the possibilities of developing a course specialized for your group and to register for any of our courses below.

 

What Will the 2013 Flu Season Bring?

Before we get into this season’s flu trends, it’s worth learning a little bit about influenza.

What Is Influenza?

Influenza refers to illnesses and symptoms, ranging from mild to severe, caused by a number of different influenza viruses. Typical symptoms are fever, coughing, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, headaches, body aches, chills and fatigue. Annual outbreaks of seasonal influenza usually occur during the late fall through early spring.

Have a look at our post: Seasonal Influenza, A Helpful Reminder to learn how to protect yourself influenza and what to do if you become sick.

2013 Flu Trends

2013 Flu Season

2013 flu season (dark blue) compared to the past six years.

By looking at data gathered by Google so far this year, we can see that 2013 is beginning to look like one of the worst flu seasons in recent years. Compared to the previous 6 years, this season is only overshadowed by the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. Unfortunately, it is still to early to determine if flu cases will continue to rise.

By using millions of data points, Google Flu Trends is able to determine (with a high-level of accuracy) how big of an impact the flu is having on a seasonal basis.

This data is important because it can show flu queries in real-time, often weeks ahead of reporting agencies.

Flu season

Comparing flu search results throughout Canada.

How does Google Flu Trends Work? (excerpt from Google)

Each week, millions of users around the world search for health information online. As you might expect, there are more flu-related searches during flu season, more allergy-related searches during allergy season, and more sunburn-related searches during the summer.

Flu trends

Google Flu Trends compared to Public Health Agency of Canada records.

We have found a close relationship between how many people search for flu-related topics and how many people actually have flu symptoms. Of course, not every person who searches for “flu” is actually sick, but a pattern emerges when all the flu-related search queries are added together. We compared our query counts with traditional flu surveillance systems and found that many search queries tend to be popular exactly when flu season is happening. By counting how often we see these search queries, we can estimate how much flu is circulating in different countries and regions around the world. 

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As you can see, Google Flu Trends is a very powerful tool that can predict the severity of the upcoming flu season with frightening accuracy. Given the intensity of the flu in 2013, it is as important as ever to get vaccinated. Learn more about vaccination here: http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/im/vs-sv/vs-faq17-eng.php

Go explore Google Flu Trends yourself!

 
 
 

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a Family Matter

We have previously highlighted the factors that put you at risk of coronary artery disease (see post here). Among these factors, we identified family history as one of the leading contributors to sudden cardiac arrest.

A new Danish study released in November 2012, has provided additional details, and demonstrates a direct link between family history and SCA.

Research indicates that relatives of young sudden cardiac death victims appear to have a much greater risk of cardiovascular disease than the general population.

During 11-years of follow-up and tracking sudden cardiac death victims, there were 292 incidents of cardiovascular disease among those with relatives who suffered sudden cardiac death, compared to 219 incidents in the background population, representing a 33 percent increase.

Researchers found the risks were particularly high when the relative who suffered cardiac arrest was younger than 35. The findings suggest a large hereditary component of sudden cardiac death.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest

“Since the cardiovascular conditions on which we focused are treatable, early identification of at-risk persons is potentially a life-saving action,” wrote Mattis Flyvholm Ranthe, MD, of the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen. “Our findings are the first of their kind and support the initiation of cascade screening in families experiencing a sudden cardiac death, with customization of screening based on the underlying condition suspected to have caused the death and family member ages.”

Many of the risks linked to sudden cardiac arrest include:

  • Smoking
  • Hypertension
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Alcohol (more than one to two drinks per day)
  • Age (after 45 for men and 55 for women)
  • Being male (2-3 times the risk)

However, previous studies have shown numerous links to sudden cardiac arrest through genetic mutations, including primary arrhythmia syndromes (electrical malfunctions), cardiomyopathies (heart muscle deterioration), familial hypercholesterolemia (elevated cholesterol levels), and ischemic heart disease (poor blood supply to the heart).

Further Details

To explore the link between family history and sudden cardiac arrest, researchers performed a prospective, population-based cohort study using Danish national registries. They identified 470 individuals ages 1 to 35 years who suffered a sudden cardiac death from 2000 to 2006, and 3,073 relatives.

  • Compared with the general population, the relatives had a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease during follow-up
  • First-degree relatives — parents, children, siblings — had a greater risk of cardiovascular disease compared with second-degree relatives, such as half-siblings, grandparents, grandchildren etc…
  • Risks were particularly high for first-degree relatives younger than 35
  • The risks among the relatives were greater when the initial sudden cardiac death was verified by autopsy.

Quiz – What’s your AED IQ???

Think your AED knowledge is top notch? Try our AED IQ quiz to find out!

http://www.proprofs.com/quiz-school/story.php?title=whats-your-aed-iq

First aid and AEDs save lives. The better you understand the process, the better equipped you are to help those around you. And as always, keep up to date on the latest first aid guidelines. You can find the current guidelines here at the heart and stroke foundation’s website:

http://www.heartandstroke.com/

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Risks

Recent studies have shed light on many risk factors related to Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA); often a quick and silent killer.

Up to ninety percent of those who die from SCA have evidence of plaque (fat and cholesterol) in two or more major arteries. Plaque buildup leads to one common underlying cause: coronary artery disease.

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Risks

The Mayo Clinic (a medical research group) reports that because the link between coronary artery disease and SCA is so strong, the same factors that put you at risk of coronary artery disease also may put you at risk of SCA.

These include:

• Family history of coronary artery disease
• Smoking
• Hypertension
• High blood cholesterol
• Obesity
• Diabetes
• Sedentary lifestyle
• Alcohol (more than one to two drinks per day)
• Age (after 45 for men and 55 for women)
• Being male (2-3 times the risk)

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Risks

The American Heart Association reports that Sudden Cardiac Arrest Risks can be caused by almost any known heart condition, they list the following specific factors that further increase the odds:

Scarring or enlargement of the heart from a previous heart attack or other causes can make someone more prone to developing life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias.

Cardiomyopathy is a deterioration of the heart muscle; typically a root cause of SCA in athletes.

Heart medications, under certain conditions, can set the stage for arrhythmias that cause SCA. Antiarrhythmic drugs sometimes can produce lethal ventricular arrhythmias, even at normal doses.

Electrical abnormalities, such as Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (a condition with an extra electrical pathway in the heart) and long QT syndrome (a disorder of the heart’s electrical activity) may cause SCA in children and young people.

Blood vessel abnormalities, particularly in the coronary arteries and aorta, may be present in young SCD victims. Adrenaline released during intense physical or athletic activity often acts as a trigger for SCA when these abnormalities are present.

Recreational drug use, even in people without organic heart disease, is a cause of SCA.

There are numerous risk factors related to SCA, but there are also ways to reduce the risk. Next week we will highlight some SCA prevention methods that you can incorporate into your everyday life. Don’t forget to check back!

Defibrillator Liability: Do You Have All the Facts?

Introduction

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) strikes over 45,000 Canadians per year. The only proven treatment for SCA victims is early defibrillation. If no defibrillation is administered within ten minutes of the attack, the chances for survival approach zero.

The latest guidelines from the Heart & Stroke Foundation call for lay responders trained in the use of Automated External Defibrillators (AED’s) as well as CPR.

Organizations that implement early defibrillation programs demonstrate a commitment to the advancement of public health and the welfare of their staff and co-workers.

Defibrillator Liability

Defibrillator Liability

As medical technologies go, public access to defibrillation is relatively new and it is not uncommon for people worrying that novel plans may lead to unexpected problems: problems that can land them in court.

The truth is that legal liability risks associated with early defibrillation programs are remote. Liability concerns should not deter those considering the purchase and use of an AED.

Relevant trial court verdicts suggest that organizations that adopt AED programs face a lower liability risk than those that do not. This includes the US states of Florida and California, which have the highest medical litigation rates in North America.

Many provinces also have laws that limit the types and scope of negligence lawsuits permissible against individuals who render emergency medical care including tort limitation, Good Samaritan laws and a variety of immunity laws.

Defibrillator Liability and the Law

Only two US cases on record directly address the issue of early defibrillation by non-healthcare professionals¹, and both complaints alleged negligence for not having an AED available. Because they were both dismissed on technical grounds, neither case offers much guidance on how future appellate courts might address issues surrounding public access defibrillation.

Future trial court cases will likely revolve around society’s view of reasonableness when businesses are faced with ill or injured patrons.

Courts examining notions of reasonableness in other medical contexts have historically resisted requiring businesses faced with ill or injured patrons to do anything more than summon an ambulance. However, the AED legal and regulatory landscape is evolving.

Action (or inaction) that the courts view as reasonable today may be viewed as unreasonable tomorrow.

Advances in AED technology, their relatively low cost and the now proven ability of these devices to save lives may persuade trial and appellate courts to sanction businesses that do not adopt AED programs.²

A Word on Causation

Defibrillator Liability

A successful negligence lawsuit involving defibrillator liability requires proof that the alleged misconduct caused legally recognized damages such as death or injury. That means any case will allege harm through one of three possible causation theories:

  • Failure to purchase and make available an AED
  • Failure to use an available AED
  • Improper use of an available AED

Businesses that do not deploy AEDs at the scene of an SCA are at the greatest risk in terms of proof of causation.

Next in order of risk are those situations in which an AED is available but not used or improperly used. Modern AEDs are both easy to use and difficult to misuse. These systems have been extensively tested in thousands of cases without a single recorded case of accidental shock. Companies that purchase and train their staff to properly use AEDs assume the lowest causation risk.

Left untreated, a sudden cardiac arrest will always kill the victim. A properly used AED can only help. Therefore, proving medical causation of harm in any early defibrillation case would be extremely difficult.

The most likely causation question to be considered is whether death could have been prevented with –not caused by– the availability and use of an AED.

Minimizing Legal Defibrillator Liability

There are a variety of ways to manage the lawsuit liability risks associated with early defibrillation programs:

1. Design a careful program

The development of a detailed plan for having a trained rescuer quickly arrive at the side of an injured or sick person will reduce the stress burden of any responder, and lead to improvements in administering care.

General rules governing negligence cases suggest organizations that implement a plan for their early defibrillation programs face lower legal liability risks than those that do not.

2. Promote Good Samaritan laws

Most provinces have Good Samaritan laws³ that protect individuals from legal liability flowing from the provision of emergency medical care.

A growing number of laws specifically protect responders to medical emergencies from legal liability under certain circumstances. A review of local laws will help determine whether, and to what degree, liability immunity protection exists.

Summary

Certain types of businesses can actually reduce their exposure to claims of negligence by adopting an AED program.

The notion held by many companies that buying and deploying AEDs increases risk is not borne out in the courts. No one in North America who had used an AED to render aid has ever been sued for that deployment. Moreover, liability risks impacting businesses that implement AED programs can be further reduced by Good Samaritan laws.

Having an early defibrillation program is the right thing for business and the lower risk option to not having one.

Iridia can provide any organization with the components for a comprehensive AED Program including acquisition of the AED and its accessories; physician-led training and certification, response planning and oversight; and liaison with health care agencies.

Our experience as pioneers of occupational AED programs, and our passion for universal public access defibrillation put us in a unique position to offer a high-value program.

1 Somes v. United Airlines, [1995]; and Talit v. Northwest Airlines, [1995]
2 Richard A. Lazar, “Understanding AED Program Legal Issues” [White paper], (2007)
3 British Columbia Good Samaritan Act, chapter172, 1996; Ontario Good Samaritan Act, chapter 2, 2001; Quebec Civil Code, article 1471, 1991; Nova Scotia Volunteer Services Act, chapter 497, section 3, 1989
4 Yukon Territory Emergency Medical Aid Act, chapter 70, 2002; Alberta Emergency Medical Aid Act, chapter E-7, 2000; Northwest Territories Emergency Medical Aid Act, chapter E-4, 1988; Saskatchewan Emergency Medical Aid Act, chapter E-8, 1978

Avian Influenza (H5N1)

Influenza is in the news again as the flu season hits full stride. No, it is not the H1N1 strain that is garnering attention this year, rather the avian influenza (H5N1) strain, which is commonly called the bird flu.

Recently a man in China has died from the H5N1 flu, the first reported human death in 18 months. The death prompted the local government to cull thousands of birds to prevent the spread of the virus. At this time no other cases have been discovered.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jlKXAPXiSQ]

What is H5N1?

H5N1 is a particular strain of avian flu that can cause infection in humans, first discovered in Southern China in 1996. Over 300 humans in twelve different countries have died from the H5N1 bird flu.

The majority of H5N1 cases in humans have been due to the handling of infected birds. 60% of those who have been infected with H5N1 have died. The following people have an increased chance of contracting the avian flu:

  • Individuals who breed and handle poultry
  • Travellers visiting infected countries
  • Those who eat undercooked poultry

Spread

The virus usually spreads from farm to farm, and then from bird to bird, via air or bird droppings; the virus can also be carried on feet of rodents, spreading virus further.

From one country to another, virus is spread through international trade of poultry; migratory birds have also been known to spread virus, while wild ducks can pollute water supplies.

The virus can survive in cool temperatures in contaminated manure for 3 months; in water, up to four days at 22 degrees Celsius and 30 days at 0 degrees Celsius. This resilience allows ample time for the virus to affect other birds. Infected birds are then able to spread the virus from country to country through migratory patterns.

H5N1 avian influenza: Timeline of major events

Pandemic Potential

All influenza viruses have the potential to can change. It is possible that an avian influenza virus could change so that it could infect humans and could spread easily from person to person. Because these viruses do not commonly infect humans, there is little or no immune protection against them in the human population. If an avian virus were able to infect people and gain the ability to spread easily from person to person, an “influenza pandemic” could begin.

Symptoms

Infection of the H5N1 virus causes typical flu-like symptoms in humans such as:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Muscle aches
  • Eye infections
  • In several fatal cases, severe respiratory distress secondary to viral pneumonia

Prevention

The best way to minimize the spread is rapid destruction of all infected or exposed birds, which involves proper disposal of carcasses, rigorous quarantine and disinfection measures (virus is killed by heat, 60 degrees C for 30 minutes) and common disinfectants such as formalin and iodine compounds.

Currently there is no vaccination for H5N1. The best prevention on a personal level is to use protective gear when handling birds that may be infected, as well as avoiding live-bird markets in infected areas. It is also very important to avoid undercooked poultry and egg products.

For organizations worldwide it is a reminder to be prepared. As the H1N1 pandemic becomes a thing of the past, we need to be vigilant and ready for the next pandemic, which substantiated the H5N1 strain.

In order to protect yourself and your organization it is vital that you have in place a pandemic plan that covers the following areas:

  • Communication tools and protocols
  • Human resources policies
  • Vaccine and antiviral usage
  • Personal protective equipment strategies
  • Infection control measures

Outlook

In August 2011, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations warned of a possible major resurgence of the H5N1 virus in the coming months, saying migratory birds appeared to be carrying it and infecting domestic poultry in Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

While we have no way of knowing exactly when the next pandemic will take place, by having the right tools in place we can mitigate the potential risks.

While you can’t always foresee an emergency situation, you can always ensure you are prepared.

AED Failure: an Avoidable Problem

Maintaining Automatic External Defibril­lators (AEDs) is perhaps the most impor­tant step in an AED program. Staff at a Washington D.C. gym learned this the hard way when a 55-year old man named Ralph Polanec collapsed.

The staff members at the gym rushed to grab their AED but could not get the device to turn on and deliver the life-saving shock Ralph’s heart needed.

Despite the best efforts of EMS personnel and friends at the scene, Ralph’s heart nev­er restarted. Later it was found out that the batteries had been removed from the de­vice when they lost their charge, they had never been replaced, effectively rendering the AED useless.

“He shouldn’t have died. I was very upset that the equipment wasn’t working, be­cause if it had been working, it might have saved him, it’s no good if it doesn’t work,” said 77-year-old Ruth Polanec, Ralph’s stepmother.

AED Failure

Ruth is not alone in her reaction. As it turns out, battery problems are one of the leading causes of potentially deadly AED failures.

AED failureA recent study shows some 1,150 deaths were tied to AED failures over a 15-year pe­riod, and nearly one in four of those failures were caused by problems with batteries. Dr. Deluca, the study’s lead author, determined that 23.2 percent of the AED failures were due to battery/power failures, while 23.7 percent were due to problems with the pads or connectors.

Even though the report describes a variety of maintenance related problems, DeLuca is quick to note that AED failures appear to be very rare. “I don’t want to send the mes­sage that these devices are unsafe or that they don’t work,” DeLuca said. “Most of the time they do work and they save lives.”

AED batteries generally last up to five years. But it is important to implement an AED program that regularly checks for error mes­sages and could alert users about low batteries.

AED maintenance is key to having a successful AED program, step up and keep your AED program running smoothly. Visit 

 


Understanding the Risks of Heart Disease and Stroke

If you would like to understand your risk of heart disease and stroke, then try this quiz out. It only takes a few minutes and gives a lot of great feedback w/ personalized summary.

Risks of Heart Disease and Stroke

The quiz is part of the Heart and Stroke Foundations new campaign to “make death wait.”

Their goals are to reduce deaths due to heart disease and stroke by 25% by 2020. That’s 25,000 lives – the size of a typical town – that could be saved every year.

Follow this link to try out the quiz:
http://ww1.heartandstroke.ca/hs_Risk.asp?media=risk_MDW_Twitter

As a health care consulting and cardiac care training firm, one of Global Medical Services’ goals is to bring exceptional health care and training to everyone. Part of the way we do this is by generating awareness for terrible health conditions such as heart disease and stroke. If you would like to donate, volunteer, or find out more information about the “Make Death Wait” campaign, please follow this link:
http://mdw.heartandstroke.ca/actions