this works, what a wonderful opportunity for heart patients in Southampton! A pacemaker monitor that tells you whether or not your pacemaker is working properly or not.

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World first for cardiac patients in Southampton

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The booth has been manufactured by Medtronic, a very large US based medical technology company. Medtronic is also a manufacturer of cardiac pacemakers, and itself faced a problem when it was identified that the leads used in some of its models, were at a higher risk of fracture than would be expected, which could result in failure of the pacemaker and/or shocks being suffered to the patient. The company did send out notification to cardiologists and patients, and in general the recommendation of their own medical experts was that prophylactic removal of the leads was unnecessary except in unusual individual patient circumstances, and instead certain steps should be taken by the patient and their treating doctor to maximise the chance of any malfunction being alerted quickly.

However, if I were a patient in that position, I am not sure that I would be keen to act so calmly. Patients fitted with a pacemaker by definition already have a problem with arguably the most vital organ in the body, and the risk of any further damage must surely be worrying at best and terrifying at worst. Not only would some patients be faced with the possibility of enduring electrical shocks from a fractured wire implanted within their chest, but some patients may face far more serious and even fatal consequences in the event of pacemaker failure. Surgery to remove and replace the potentially faulty leads and/or pacemaker though is not without its own risks and complications, which leaves the patient in somewhat of a dilemma.

If  these patients had had access to a booth like this one that has been installed at Southampton, maybe it could have given them a greater peace of mind and aided both the patients and their treating doctors in reaching a decision as to future management in the best interests of the patient. However the machine at Southampton is a World First and I am sure  that the hospital is proud to be part of this initiative. Hopefully this innovative piece of equipment will minimise stress and worry to cardiac patients in the future, and provide further confidence to their treating cardiologists.

Congratulations to Southampton Cardiac unit yet again, and please join up to the "Have a Heart" campaign to keep Southampton's first class paediatric unit open.

Kym Provan

Senior solicitor -

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