Monday, July 09, 2007

Needed: Humane Medical Equipment

The X-Ray machine stood in the middle of the room about 20 feet by 10 feet. About four or five feet away from the X-Ray machine was a contraption that I hadn't paid attention to when little N and I were escorted into the room. I was looking for a chair on which I would sit and hold little N in my arms while her tiny chest was X-Rayed. I expected the medical technician to give me the radiation-proof vest to wear. The technician did hand me the vest, but little N would not be in my arms.

Instead, she would sit, but herself, in that contraption. I looked at it closely now. It had a wooden plank and a hole about two and a half feet in diameter in the middle through which a green tricycle seat was visible. Her legs and hips would go through the hole until she sat on the tricycle seat. Around her torso rising up from the wooden plank was a plastic enclosure, almost like a vest, which would go around her chest and be snapped shut. Her head peeped just above the plastic enclosure. Every part of her body was where it was supposed to be, but what about her arms?

I was supposed to hold them - tight together above her head. I gently pulled her arms up and held them while the technician tried to close the plastic vest around her chest. By this time little N had started whimpering. She did not like her hospital gown, she was uncomfortable in the seat, her arms must have been hurting quite a bit at the armpits from being pulled up above her head. The vest would not snap shut and little N started pulling her arms down and wanted to be picked up. At one point her arms got wedged in the vest and we had to unhook the clasp and start all over again. This went on for about five minutes by which time little N was angry. She wanted to get out and now.

Two more minutes of struggling with the contraption and the technician was ready to run the X-ray machine that was behind little N. Then he realized it was the wrong film plate in the slot in front of little N. He ran to the supply closet to pick up another one and slide it in its place. Now, finally he was ready. One X-ray front to back and another sideways and we were done, but it took a while before little N calmed down.

There's got to be a better way of doing this. How can one expect small children to sit for any length of time in a contraption such as that without feeling uncomfortable and therefore refusing to cooperate with the process? Or is this the lot of the little children? Children have no voice, other than crying to express their discomfort, so whoever designs these things must not feel the need to take into consideration their needs. No one gets X-rays for the pleasure of it. We go in there because of a medical necessity and, in most instances, in worrisome situations. The least the manufacturers can do is to spare a thought for the comfort of the little people for whom these machines are desinged.


Anonymous said...

Suj, what happened to N? I hope it was nothing serious that required an x-ray...? and you know my views about need for more humane medical care, forget just equipment. as someone who has lost count of the number of xrays and scans I have been through (trying not to think of the amount of radiation I have been exposed to), it is the MRIs that give me nightmares. the feeling of being entombed and for a long stretch of time... makes me shudder.

and I figured that for some of the doctors I met, MRI was just one of th tests they ordered as a matter of routine and they had no idea how to read it thoroughly...

Sujatha Bagal said...

Hi Charu, nothing terrible, just something that needed following up on. And yeah, I remembered you while I was writing this. The mammogram machine is another example of equipment that requires some serious rethinking, perhaps by someone who can empathize with what the intended patients have to go through. May be these designers can constitute a panel of men, women, parents (I'll settle for human beings, at this point) as the situation demands before they sign off on the final designs.

Anonymous said...

hey Suj, hope little N is ok. I was thinking - arent there such things as mobile xrays? couldnt they adapt those things to work on little kids?

Sujatha Bagal said...

Amrita, she's fine. Thanks. :) I really don't know how mobile X-rays would work any better. The machine itself is badly designed from the perspective of comfort and enabling little children to have X-rays taken without physical pain.