Thursday, November 09, 2006

What I Learned: Part 3

Here is the third and final post about my recent conference. Consider this proof that I really didn't spend the week hanging out by the pool. Here goes:

  • Zacarias Moussaoui was really nuts. He was also really a member of Al-Qaeda.
  • Forty people have requested physician-assisted suicide in Oregon where it's legal. (After our discussion with The Ethicist I call physician-assisted suicide the Probate Attorney Employment Act. I wonder how you defend a will for someone who's been euthansized.)
  • Psychotic death row inmates in South Carolina are more likely to select electrocution over lethal injection.
  • Serum cortisol levels correlate with performance on simulated emergencies faced by police officers. Police performance varies inversely with the officers' own opinions about their performance.
  • Suicide screening instruments do not predict suicide deaths in corrections (yeah, we pretty much all new that).
  • In 1970, 90% of all FDA Phase I trials were conducted on prisoners.
  • For the CSI fans among our readers, there was a terrific panel presentation on the forensic investigation of motor vehicle accidents. This is what I took away from it:
Always wear your seatbelts, but wear them properly. Put the lap belt over your hips and the shoulder harness over your shoulder not under your arm. Improperly placed seatbelts can cause significant injury.

Here is a partial list of injuries found at autopsy during motor vehicle death investigations:
1. transverse skull fractures and a ring fracture of the foramen magnum.
2. petecchial hemorrages in the eyes and the skin of the upper thorax from traumatic asphyxiation
3. aortic transection, liver laceration and rib fractures from thorax trauma
4. fractures of the wrists and forearms (from gripping the steering wheel)
5. fractures of the ankles (from stomping on brakes)
6. "dicing" or cube-shaped lacerations of the lateral arms due to side window glass (indicates body position at time of impact)

Forensic biomedical engineers have a fascinating job. One admitted: "Crash testing is really fun."

The bottom line on the crash investigation panel: Presentations featuring autopsy photos should never be scheduled immediately before lunch.