• Question: how does electric help save lives in hospitals ?

    Asked by pinkyypinkssz to Alastair, Emma, Hywel, Keith on 23 Jun 2010 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Alastair Sloan

      Alastair Sloan answered on 23 Jun 2010:

      Electricity powers all the bits of equipment needed in a hospital including life support machines, incubators for premature babies, ventilation machines helping people breathe, gas supplies for putting people to sleep during operations, blood pressure monitors. All these are needed to keep people alive and help save lives in hospital

    • Photo: Keith Brain

      Keith Brain answered on 23 Jun 2010:

      Electricity helps power all sort of machines that help keep people alive.

      There are simple things, like keeping fridges and freezers running to keep medicines working (medicines can break down at the wrong temperature).

      Electricity is used to power machines that help doctors decide what is wrong: like measuring the electrical activity of the heart (an ECG).

      Electricity is used to power machines like respirators which breath for people when they can’t do it for themselves (for example, during some operations or after severe head injuries).

      Electricity is also used in some treatments, like:
      – defibrillation, which is where you give the heart and electric shock to get it working again, or
      – ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) – a very controversial treatment for severe depression, because although it works it can cause people to lose some of their memories. In ECT, the brain is given an electric shock (while they under a general anaesthetic so that they can’t feel anything)

      In my own work, we study the electrical currents and potentials generated in our own bodies. Every cell has an electric potential across its wall of just under 0.1V. So, if you were to connect about 20 of these cells together with tiny wires, you’d have the same voltage an AA battery (although, it would run down very quickly if you tried to use it …). So, understanding electricity is also very important for understanding biology.

    • Photo: Emma Carter

      Emma Carter answered on 23 Jun 2010:

      Loads of ways – diagnostic and monitoring equipment like heart monitors, X-rays, CAT scans, ultra-sound, also surgical tools, lighting (surgeons need to see what they’re doing)…..etc.