Wednesday, February 24, 2016

In What Form are X-rays Read?

Dawn asks:

Are x-rays still on film and put into a light box? Or are they digital, on a computer screen.

Jordyn says:

Yes, x-rays are digital now and viewed on computer screen. Paper print outs and discs are given to the family. Paper copy if it's just showing the parent "this is your kid's fracture." A disc if another doctor will need to look at it. Even when we get films from other area hospitals they are on a disc. I haven't seen films in close to ten years.

If the novel is set in the US this is probably a safe assumption but may not be for developing countries.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

What's The Ruckus About Zika?

If you've listened at all to the news lately then you've been hearing about Zika virus and the concern it's causing about a possible link to microcephaly (babies born with small brains) from women who were infected during their pregnancy. I knew it was time to blog about Zika when I overheard another woman at the salon claiming that engineered mosquitoes were responsible for the Zika outbreak. Surely, this was a conspiracy theory but my suspense author brain was warmed up and not just because I was under a set of heat lamps.

I had to investigate (and make lots of notes for future books.)

Zika is a flaviviridae and is in the same family as Dengue, West-nile virus, and Hepatitis C. Zika is transmitted via mosquitoes so an infected person gets bit, and when that same mosquito bites another person, transmission can occur. 

Only about twenty percent of people infected with the virus will show symptoms. It's unknown how long the incubation period is. An incubation period is from the time of infection until you show symptoms. 

Symptoms can include fever, rash, joint pain, headache and conjunctivitis lasting up to one week. Deaths related to Zika virus are rare. 

There is no current treatment for Zika other than prevention-- which in this case is not getting bit by an infected mosquito. So repellent, mosquito nets, etc. The above information comes from the CDC website which you can further read here

 Zika was first discovered in 1947 in a Rhesus monkey in Zika Forest, Uganda. There have been previous cases in Uganda, Tanzania, and Nigeria before it broke free from Africa into other areas. It hit Chile in 2014 with cases until June 2014. And then it disappeared.

In May, 2015, Zika was confirmed in Brazil. The largest concern is Zika infection in pregnant women where it seemingly is causing arrested brain development in unborn babies or microcephaly. It's unknown what percentage of infants, if any, develop microcephaly when the mother is infected with Zika during her pregnancy or at what point in the pregnancy this would be concerning for developing the congenital condition.

Brazil is where there was a noted spike in cases of microcephaly. Keep in mind, the link between Zika and this birth defect is suspected but scientifically unconfirmed. Some are postulating that the increased cases are due to hypervigilance and a broad screening net. The Brazilian government stated on January 27th "that of 4,180 cases of microcephaly recorded since October, it has so far confirmed 270 and rejected 462 as false diagnoses."    

And, according to this well laid out article, the genetically engineered mosquitoes aren't the cause for the spread of Zika. However, I do see the possibility of a future post and a very good basis for a medical thriller in the future.

What do you think about Zika? Are you worried about it? 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How Likely Is It For A Parent To Be an HLA Donor Match for Bone Marrow?

Anonymous Asks:

How likely is it for a mother and an uncle to be bone marrow donor for her child? What can a donor expect if picked for donation?

Jordyn Says:

I found this article you might want to take a look at that specifically talks about the odds of a person being a match for their child. A sibling has the best chance at twenty-five percent. A parent of a child only has a one in 200 chance to be a match. Why is that? Because a child gets genetic information from two parents and it’s unlikely that these parents would have the same genetic makeup as their child. So the likelihood of both the mother and a biologically related uncle coming up a match would be pretty slim. I think both being a full match isn't possible statistically.

This article goes into detail about what a donor can expect. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Medical Rebuttal of Amazon Review: Dianna Benson

It's hard as an author to get bad reviews-- and it's hard to know what to do about them. Generally, I personally feel everyone's entitled to their opinion about my work. As Elizabeth Gilbert states in Big Magic-- my job is to get my work out there and everything else is not my business.

But it's hard, particularly when a reviewer remarks about a medical inaccuracy in your novel and you are a medical expert. And since this blog is about medical accuracy in fiction, I'm hosting Dianna Benson to talk about her experience with just such a review. 

Welcome back, Dianna.

A few months after my first novel, The Hidden Son, released in 2013, a reader/fan contacted me to inform me a review was posted on Amazon with incorrect medical comments. The person who wrote the review stated it’s not possible for someone who suffered brain damage from head trauma to recover and later become a police officer. Recently, an MD wrote a review on Amazon stating and explaining how that review is medically inaccurate – thank you, Robert Littleton, MD.

As an EMT for eleven years, I have firsthand medical experience and knowledge, especially with trauma, and I implement that into all my suspense novels. As Dr. Littleton stated, the human brain can heal from temporary damage (thus not all brain damage is permanent.) In The Hidden Son I briefly explained the character’s injuries and recovery, and in Persephone’s Fugitive (Book Two in the Cayman Islands Series), I wrote more detail about those injuries and recovery since that information fit with the characterization in one of the story scenes toward the end.

Like Dr. Littleton, I’m a Tar Heels fan – my son is a pre-med student at UNC Chapel Hill, headed to medical school to become either a neurologist or a pediatric oncologist. In addition to my EMS career, I have firsthand experience and knowledge with brain damage via my son – he was born with cerebral palsy, hypermobile joints, and dextrocardia situs inversus totalis with kartagener syndrome.

Due to his health issues, he easily suffered multiple concussions in high school and now struggles with chronic concussion syndrome. While his brain is healing, he’s able to succeed as a pre-med student, but it’s rough. His neurologist’s prognosis is my son will fully recover soon. A patient of my son’s neurologist was in a coma for a month from head trauma from a car accident. For several years this patient dealt with chronic concussion syndrome due to brain damage. Now, she’s a physician and fully recovered.
Unless I explicitly know something as a fact, I would never post it on the Internet (especially against another person) for the world to read. Just a friendly suggestion.   

Here is the link to the page of reviews of The Hidden Son on Amazon.


Dianna T. Benson is the award-winning and international bestselling author of The Hidden Son and Final Trimester. Persephone’s Fugitive is her third release. An EMT and a HazMat and FEMA Operative since 2005, Dianna authentically implements her medical and rescue experience and knowledge into all her suspense novels. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and their three children.