Tuesday, May 26, 2009

For several weeks in May, Rivers seniors embark on self-directed independent study projects that can involve anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to, say, earning a rocketry certification. Over the next few weeks, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Kate Burns, who is working at the Boston Children’s Hospital.
Today I heard back from two of the physicians that I e-mailed! I was so thrilled that these world renowned doctors took the time out of their day to even read my e-mail and to respond.
The first doctor I heard back from was Dr. Edwin van der Voort, a Senior Staff member of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Sophia Children’s Hospital in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Dr. van der Voort is also a representative of Europe on the Board of Directors for the World Federation of Pediatric Intensive and Critical Care Societies.
The second physician who responded to my e-mail was Prof. Dr Bettina von Dessauer. I was thrilled to hear back from Prof. Dr. von Dessauer because I have not had the best of luck finding information on Latin America’s policies yet. Dr. Bettina is the director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in Santiago, Chile at Hospital Roberto del Río. She explained to me that Chile unfortunately does not have a national statement for decision-making in Critical Care Medicine. However, her hospital had published guidelines that are acknowledged as the leading protocol in Chile. Hearing from Dr. von Dessauer was also exciting because she is also the President of SLACIP — Sociedad Latino Americana Cuidados Intensivos Pediatricos. SLACIP members include Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Ecuador, and almost every Latin American nation. So, her information was a significant contribution to my research because I had still not been able to find SLACIP’s official statement.
One of my favorite things about medicine is how it can really unite the international community. I mean, who doesn’t want to help cure illness? I thought it was crazy that I could e-mail people around the world, who I had never met before, and they would be willing to help me.
But, I haven’t just been waiting for responses to my e-mail. Since last Thursday, I’ve really tried to condense and organize the information that I already had. I want to give Dr. van der Velden significant research that will be easy for her to turn into a paper. So, I typed up and edited all of my findings until I had eleven pages of information, size ten font. My information is organized so that the relevant clinical studies are first, presented in chart form. I then include all of the official national statements. So far, I have guidelines from Chile, the Netherlands, the United States, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, and Japan. Now, I just need Italy and France.
Once I had finished compiling all of my information, I started wondering about international medical communities. With the recent outbreak of Swine Flu, I had been hearing about the World Health Organization a lot and decided to see if it had a statement on palliative care. Once I found WHO’s statement, I went on to find guidelines from the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM) and the 5th International Consensus Conference in Critical Care – the conference included basically ever major medical nation in the world. These were great finds and basically summed up my research.
Now, I’m looking at the differences in guidelines, trying to see if they might be because of different cultures, regions, or languages. That’ll be the final step to assisting Dr. van der Velden, and that’s my focus for this last week.
-Kate Burns

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