Coming Soon: Get Your Implantable Defibrillator on Craigslist?

Yes, I know I’m supposed to bring you the stunning conclusion to my top ten list of medical advances. But I was so excited to talk about this article I read recently that I’m bringing you this post instead. The top ten medical advances (1-5) will be up in 2 weeks. Unless I decide to bump it again.

We live in a golden age of technology and manufacturing. An age in which we’ve been spoiled by machines, personal devices and electronics have been created to ever increasing standards. Just a few decades ago, you couldn’t buy a Chevy Nova whose bumper didn’t fall off a week after you drove it off the lot. But today’s cars are engineered so well that they easily go hundred thousand miles and beyond.  Consumers expectations are now so high, that to ensure that electronics last the expected amount of time, they‘re engineered to last much longer than that. The cell phone(s) in your closet that you forgot about when you renewed your contract probably makes calls just as well as the one you’re using now.
The same goes for medical devices, particularly crucially important medical devices like implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICD). To ensure that they last the expected amount of time and deliver their life sustaining jolts, they have to be built to last. (For the amount of money they charge for them, they had better be). Unfortunately, building something like an implantable cardiac defibrillator to such exacting standards makes them extraordinarily expensive. Think your average Mercedes Benz expensive. And that significantly raises the bar for entry, particularly for the poor both in this country and abroad. In third world countries, access to such devices is limited to the super wealthy, as private insurance plans are limited and government resources are typically directed towards more elemental aspects of health that affect the larger population. In other words, in countries like India, if you’re fortunate enough to have lived long enough to have a cardiac problem which warrants the placement of a defibrillator, you had better be rich enough to afford one. If not, you’re on your own. Continue reading “Coming Soon: Get Your Implantable Defibrillator on Craigslist?”