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Friday, January 18th 2008

Hypothermia In Spinal Cord Injury

I’ve discussed the case of Kevin Everett some on this blog. The question being posed now, is all the hype surrounding the hypothermia’s treatment he received really worth it?

“There’s a chance he could actually walk again, thanks to an innovative treatment,” Katie Couric said on CBS News. Sports Illustrated put the case on its cover, and newspapers carried headlines like “Big Chill May Save Football Player From Paralysis.”

Some doctors, including Everett’s supervising physician, say such accounts misrepresent the role of hypothermia in a way that could be dangerous to future patients.

Here’s the best potential consequence – when lawyers start crying it as the ‘standard,’

Lawyers have already cited Everett’s treatment as relevant to other people’s potential litigation. A blog entry published in September by Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie, a law firm in Newport Beach, Calif., put it this way: “The immediate choices that these doctors make can determine whether a patient dies, lives or ever walks again. Clients with spinal injuries look to their attorneys to stay on top of the latest and best innovation for recovery.”

Dr. Benzel, of the Cleveland Clinic, bristles at such assertions.

“It now appears criminal to not employ, urgently, hypothermia for the care of spinal-cord injuries,” he said. “But in reality, it is not substantiated by truth. We should demand, and the public should demand we demand, research that substantiates safe and effective treatment before we embark on it.”

Via Kevin, MD