A Picture Before Dying

December 19, 2010 § 5 Comments

“Intensive Care”. Painting by Joseph Dwaihy and Sara Dykstra.

An unusual request from the intensive care unit. Could I take some last photos of a patient before they switched off his life support? « Read the rest of this entry »

The Patient and the Photographer

October 6, 2009 § 1 Comment


Patients are people – people with problems. They are often in pain and usually apprehensive. To them, the medical photographer is someone who, once more, submits them to an institutional routine. He takes their pictures, with part or all of their clothing removed, to show what is usually an embarrassing condition or deformity. Again, indispensable as photography is in the teaching and advancing of medicine, it does not present to the patient the same direct benefit as a radiograph or a blood test.

H. Lou Gibson, Medical photography; clinical-ultraviolet-infrared (1973). (photo credit)

Breaking the Ice

May 14, 2009 § 4 Comments


I usually meet a patient for the first time when I show up to take some photos or shoot a video. The doctor or nurses treating the patient will have informed the patient and asked for his or her permission. But although they have agreed, most patients are a bit nervous of a camera (and yet another person in scrubs) entering into their hospital life. By the time I arrive, ice have formed. « Read the rest of this entry »

To err is human

November 17, 2008 § 6 Comments


The kind of flexible sponge left inside this patient. Photo: Ole Åsheim, Nordlys.

This week one of the worst cases of retained surgical instruments in Norway was unraveled. A patient saw his five operations for colon cancer in a year turn to six, when it was discovered the surgeon had left behind a 20 cm long flexible sponge. The unique aspect of it however, was the patient’s reaction.
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Lift me

September 2, 2008 § 5 Comments

Now and then, while waiting for an operation to start, I’m asked to help with the preparations. Nurses rush back and forth, and the schedule is tight, so a couple of idle hands are useful. I’m not trained in OR procedures, but over the years I’ve seen enough to know roughly what to do. I know how to open a sterile package, tie a gown and stuff like that. Today I was asked to help move the patient. « Read the rest of this entry »

Camera left inside patient

December 10, 2007 § 1 Comment

X-ray of scissors left inside patientAccording to ScienceDaily surgical objects are left inside about 1500 patients in the US every year, leading to pain, infections and other serious complications.

This issue is something I’ve often thought about when I’m in an OR. It’s always fascinating to watch the surgical nurses maintaining the count of instruments, sponges and other stuff. Making sure everything is outside the patient before the wound is closed.

The ScienceDaily article states that about two-thirds of the objects accidentally left inside people are surgical sponges. They’re used, amongst other things, to absorb blood and are hard to distinguish from tissue when they’re all red with blood.

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Patient patients

November 17, 2007 § 2 Comments

Stem cell transplantationIn my current job almost all the videos we make are of actual patients undergoing cancer surgery and procedures used in diagnosing cancer . Before we can go ahead with a recording, the patient has to sign a paper stating her consent.

When I was initially briefed about the job, I thought this would be the project’s Achilles’ heel. Why would someone who’s about to get a cancerous tumor removed from their body agree to having a camera team present? Would any woman who’s getting her breasts scanned want the extra stress of being filmed? I imagined a lot of time would be spent searching for a patient who would say “yes”. « Read the rest of this entry »

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