Three from MDD; Star Trek, big business, and human foibles

May 2, 2013 – 7:17 AM | By Mark McCarty | No comments yet
Starship enterprise

Medical science boldly going


The pages of Medical Device Daily are chock-full of outstanding content, but here are three stories from the month of April that caught my eye.

Taking the eye out of ouch

Seventh Sense Biosystems announced a registration trial for its TAP (touch-activated phlebotomy) device, which is one of those things that in times gone by was strictly the stuff of science fiction television shows. As my colleague Amanda Pedersen wrote in the April 3 edition, the TAP makes use of microneedles to obtain blood from the capillaries, and can dispense a small dose of anti-coagulant to keep things moving if need be.

This is real Star Trek stuff if you ask me. The company’s CEO, Howard Weisman, perhaps understated the case when he told Amanda the device got around “the pain and anxiety” of routine blood draws “because you don’t see the needle.”

I don’t see myself as particularly squeamish, but I don’t look at needles at all. I turn my head if I need a shot. In my view, you have to be a little crazy if you actually watch it all happen.

Three cheers for Seventh Sense, but tell me again who got sixth?

Consolidation in diagnostic services

Thermo Fisher and Life Technologies shook hands over a deal that would give the latter’s shareholders about $76 a share in a consolidation in the life science services industry. Both companies offer diagnostic lab services, and the terms of the deal make it a purchase coming to close to $14 billion plus any remaining debt on Life Technologies’ books, which may run to about $2 billion.

As Omar Ford wrote in the April 16 edition of Medical Device Daily, Thermo Fisher needed some help from a couple of investment banks to pull it off, which indicates the firm’s board of directors saw this as either too good to pass up or vital to the company’s future … or both. In any case, the deal probably won’t close until early next year.

Will a bidding war for Life Sciences ensue?

Collegiality at hospitals an issue?

Medical errors are still a topic among physicians and policymakers, and former Medical Device Daily executive editor Jim Stommen authored a two-part interview with Frederick Southwick, MD, of the University of South Florida about this.

Southwick told Jim – who I might note is something of a legend among the editorial staff at MDD’s publisher, AHC Media – that one of the impediments to efforts to tamp down on iatrogenic disease and injury is a cultural one. Southwick said hierarchies are of sufficient stiffness in many hospitals that “there is not a sense of collegiality that’s needed in order to foster teamwork.” He also remarked that hospital staff “tend to be disorganized in the way we communicate.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology as much as the next policy wonk, but if Southwick is right on the hierarchy point, it’s another demonstration of the need for we humans to get out of our own darn way. This is something technology cannot fix.

I’m not saying I never have such issues, and I’m also not saying I’d trade places with a doctor. People in all lines of work tend to lead with their egos, but when running unchecked in a hospital, this very understandable human impulse can cost lives.

But who, besides Southwick, is talking about it?


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