Though ancient for social media, I thought this week-old but bizarre defibrillator story might be worth a mention.
From the South Florida news feeds, Implanted defibrillator killed Gateway man after wife’s heart stopped.
Here’s the skinny: In October, an 80 year-old woman—with an internal defibrillator– and her 85 year-old husband of 60 years were enjoying themselves in a South Florida hot tub. Something dramatic happened, as they were both found dead the same day.
It took nearly four months for the medical examiner to release the outrageous findings that the woman’s defibrillator electrocuted her husband. Shockingly, the ME released this misleading statement: (remember the rule—no information is better than bad information.)
“Although (implanted defibrillators) are life-saving devices, the public should be made aware of the hazards associated with these devices so proper safety measures can be taken by those in contact with affected patients,” Wheaton said in the statement.
Oh, the many ways to spin this story.
First, it’s well-known and accepted that ICDs confer risk to the patient who has the device. But let’s debunk the myth that an internal defibrillator could harm anyone else. ICD shocks are delivered internally and any person in contact with a patient getting shocked would merely feel muscle contractions, even if they were in water.
Second, in this case, the husband did not have an ICD, so there would be no record of his rhythm at the time of death.
Third, although I am no forensic expert, an external electrical event that would have affected both seems far more likely.
Finally, another way one could look back at this event is with a very wide-angle, big picture life camera. In this lens, the tragedy might look slightly less tragic. (Caveat first: no one advocates for accidental deaths and we all hope to live forever.)
But…How about this view? An elderly couple married for sixty years die together, suddenly, under a Florida sky and after a full life. Their final inning did not involve chemo, nursing homes, dementia, diapers and time away from each other.
Ooh, Death is hard to write about.