Monday, April 26, 2010

MOAS - after reading Chapters 7,8 & 9

1.) Describe the composition and functions of blood. Why is monitoring blood and blood pressure so crucial to maintaining a patients course of treatment?

2.) What type of information is gained from an autopsy? An autopsy involved cutting open the patient and removing and studying several organs. Would you give permission to have a deceased family member autopsied by the medical staff? Why? Why not?

Please respond by Cinco de Mayo.


  1. 1. The fluid blood, a vital substance for most animals, contains a plasma liquid and three main types of cells: Red Blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Red Blood cells transport oxygen from the lungs to all cells in the body and also remove waste from other cells and deliver it to other parts of the body for disposal. White blood cells serve as the bodies defense against antigens. They prevent harmful viruses or bacteria from spreading through the body and destroy infected body cells. Platelets play a key role in stopping the body from bleeding out of wounds. These small irregularly shaped cells help clog blood as it gushes out of a wound. Platelets also affect growth in young children.
    It is important to keep a normal blood pressure in a patient at all times because irregular blood pressures lead inevitably to problems in the rest of the body. If a patient has a blood pressure lower than normal they may go into shock due to a lack of oxygen reaching their brain. Conversely a patient may go into shock if they have too much blood coursing through their body because of high blood pressure.

    2. Autopsies are the answer key to the patient's problems or illness. Once a patient passes, doctors can examine the patient's body fully without risk of harming the patient. In this way they can determine the cause of death and often how to spot and prevent this cause in the future. Much of medical knowledge is based off of information gained from autopsies and Nolen argues that because autopsies save lives they are absolutely necessary in keeping the world safe from disease and injury.
    However, if a medical team had not discovered the cause of death of a family member I would not want them to perform an autopsy. Most likely these doctors would find that the problem was treatable and only because of some mistake they had misdiagnosed the patient. In this case they would gain nothing and my remaining family and myself would be left wondering if things had turned out differently if that loved one would still be alive. If, on the other hand, my family member had died even with proper to treatment to a diagnosed illness, I would not stop doctors from performing an autopsy out of the rare chance they might find something interesting in that loved one.

  2. 1. So, blood is a bodily fluid that has many functions. Blood plasma is mostly water, but also contains hormones, red and white blood cells, and platelets among many other chemicals. First and foremost, blood acts as the carrier of oxygen from the lungs to the cells of the body. It does this with hemoglobin in the red blood cells. The white blood cells are part of the body's immune system, and act to gobble up pathogens. Hormones are chemical messengers, which allow for cellular responses to triggers from the brain. Finally, platelets are the cell fragments that allow blood to clot. Hemophiliacs suffer from a deficiency of platelets.

    Watching blood pressure is important because it is a harbinger of internal problems. The book told the story of how Nolen mistook the signs of shock from blood loss for that of mental instability. If he had taken a reading from the patient, this mixup would not have occurred.

    2. Autopsies are the main reason we know so much about medicine as we do. Without the danger of harming a living human, doctors can see how diseases affect organs and how the final result of a disease looked.

    I totally would allow for doctors to butcher the corpse of my dead family member. They're dead, they really don't care anymore. Plus, its a win win situation. If they died, and doctors preform an autopsy, they might help save lives by discovering a new aspect of the disease. Also, if they found that the doctors treating my family member made a mistake or misdiagnosis, I would make hella bank from the malpractice lawsuits!

  3. 1. Blood is composed of plasma fluid and, as mentioned earlier, three main types of cells. The plasma fluid is a complex solution of water with three very different sorts of substances dissolved with in: metabolites and wastes, salts and ions, and proteins. Metabolites and wastes include glucose, vitamins, hormones, and obviously, wastes. Salts and ions, such as sodium, chloride, and bicarbonate, exist and produce a composition in blood that is oddly familiar to sea water. Perhaps this has an evolutionary link... Proteins in the plasma are very important because blood would lose most of its water through osmosis if it did not contain as high a concentration of proteins as the cells it passes. The three cell components of blood are erythrocytes (red blood cells which carry hemoglobin and are essential in oxygen and carbon dioxide transport), leukocytes (white blood cells which we have discussed quite a bit recently that focus on the defense of the body), and platelets (which help the blood to clot when the body is injured). This is the composition of blood. Obviously, blood is extremely important, and plays a major role in stopping excessive loss of blood (by clotting), defending the body (with its white blood cells and protein antibodies), and delivering nutrients and other things to various parts of the body. Monitoring blood pressure is extremely important as both high and low blood pressure can be deadly. Persistent hypertension (or high blood pressure) is a common cause of strokes, heart attacks, heart failure and arterial aneurysm, and is a leading cause of chronic renal failure (a dangerous disease in the kidneys). Even moderate elevation of arterial blood pressure leads to shortened life expectancy. Low blood pressure, or hypotension, is also terribly dangerous, and can lead to dizziness, chest pain, shock, seizures, fainting and other, more serious issues. If doctors do not monitor these factors, any one of the horrific symptoms above can manifest itself during the course of treatment, completely throwing off the medical personnel, and complicating everything.

    2. As Patricio and Jacobo have so skillfully articulated, autopsies have led to many key medical breakthroughs. The only time one can really open up the body and see what it looks like is when someone is dead. An autopsy is the perfect opportunity to really analyze the body without any worries of messing things up. Autopsies provide a perfect chance for us to learn about the human body and NOT risk endangering lives! By analyzing what went wrong with patients, we can discover how to do things right in the future and how to save lives. And, I believe that I would definitely give permission to medical examiners to study the body of a loved one. It would give the dead a chance to do good even after they were dead! Also, I know this is silly and comes from television, but whenever I watch CSI, NCIS, or Criminal Minds, the bodies are always respected and always handled with the utmost care by the ME's. It makes me feel good to think that just because a loved one was dead does not mean that he or she will be treated like meat. Their corpses instead can provide a gateway to understanding more about the world around us. However, if the autopsy would for some reason or another lead to the disfiguring of said love one, I would not allow it. This is too disrespectful for me, and since I would most likely want an open casket funeral, this would ruin everything, and sadden me greatly. I want to remember my loved ones as they looked when they were filled with life, and not grossly distorted by scalpels and experimentation...

  4. 1. Blood, which composes about 5% of a human's total body mass, is made up largely of plasma, as well as several different cells and other bodies within it. Plasma is 90% water-the other 10% consists of metabolites/wastes, plasma ions, and proteins. Glucose, vitamins, hormones and deteriorated chemical waste are carried inside the plasma to their various destinations, accounting for the metabolites. Plasma itself is a dilated salt solution, so sodium, chloride, and bicarbonate ions float around diluted in the blood (with traces of magnesium, copper, potassium, zinc and calcium), accounting for salts/ions. Proteins as serum albumin prevent drastic loss of water, while fibrinogen proteins are necessary for clotting. What's left at this point in the bloodstream are the immune cells and red blood cells that defend the body and carry oxygen, respectively.

    Too low blood pressure is highly dangerous. Usually a result of excessive bleeding, low blood pressure prevents thorough circulation through the capillaries, arteries and veins, creating a deficiency of oxygen, glucose, and other essential factors necessary for survival. However, high blood pressure is equally as dangerous, as it can lead to ruptured veins or arteries, causing strokes, lesions or internal hemorrhaging. Therefore, as Dr. Nolen made starkly clear in the book, having enough pints on hand as well as sterile, clean needles was a bare necessity needed for a hospital to function.

    2. Autopsies are the only failsafe way to get an inside look at the structures and locations of the organs of the human body. As Jacob, Brett and Patrick have said before me, the greatest amount of medical knowledge we have comes from doing autopsies on dead patients to find the cause of disease or injury. If a patient dies of lymphatic cancer, a team of doctors can track the spread of cancer cells through their various concentration in the different nodes of the body and note in the future where to concentrate chemotherapy and surgery, as well as where to focus on preventative measures.

    Though it is emotionally very hard, I would definitely allow doctors to do an autopsy on a dead family member. That way, my family member's death would contribute to future medicine by providing more clues to prevent future occurrences of death like that of my family member.

  5. 1. Blood is made up of plasma, platelets, and red and white blood cells. Plasma is a liquid made mostly of water, but it also contains dissolved proteins, glucose, hormones, carbon dioxide, platelets, and minerals. Plasma is responsible for carrying food particles and hormones and transporting them to cells that need them. Platelets are what allow blood to clot so that we do not bleed to death when we get a cut. Red blood cells are responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to other cells and transporting waste to areas where they can be properly disposed of. White blood cells are an essential part of the immune system and the body's fight against disease. It is important to monitor blood pressure because both high and low blood pressure can be fatal. If a person's blood pressure is too high, the lining of their arteries may become damaged and swollen, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Low blood pressure, like was mentioned in the book, is especially dangerous because a person with low blood pressure is not getting enough oxygen to their cells.

    2. As Jacob, Patrick, Brett, and Matt have all pointed out, autopsies lead to great medical discoveries and are key in advancing medicine in safe ways that do not risk the life of the patient. They allow the doctors to safely explore the effects of diseases on the body, which hopefully leads to a better understanding, and eventually a potential cure could be developed. I would definitely give permission to have a deceased family member autopsied because, like Matt said, I would want their death to help contribute to future advancements that may lead to preventions of the disease so that other families would not have to suffer as well. I don not agree with Jacob about not allowing an autopsy if the cause of death was unknown. I actually think that this may be one of the best ways to help because even if it was a misdiagnosis or a medical error, it could still help the doctors learn and maybe they would learn a new symptom for a disease and be able to recognize in the next person that comes to the hospital and save his/her life.

  6. 1. Human blood is composed of a number of things. A large portion of blood's makeup is plasma, in which the actual blood cells are suspended. The plasma is mostly water but it also contains hormones, proteins, glucose, and platelets. Platelets are important for the process that the body calls upon to stop bleeding (hemostasis), though an overabundance can cause blood clots to form. As for the blood cells themselves, there are a number of different types of blood cells. The most abundant are the red blood cells, which are given their color by proteins called hemoglobin. Not only do they give red blood cells their color, hemoglobin are also the molecules which bind to and transport oxygen. Blood fluid also contains white blood cells which are a key component of the immune system. The various types of white blood cells are responsible for destroying any cells which have been marked as foreign/dangerous.
    One of the primary functions of blood is the distribution of oxygen to various cells in the body. Blood cells obtain oxygen from the lungs and transport it to any cells that might need it, thanks to hemoglobin. Furthermore, they are also responsible for carrying the carbon dioxide that results from cell activity back to the lungs to be exhaled. Beyond oxygen, blood cells also supply the body's cells with other important nutrients including, but not limited to glucose, proteins, and various minerals. Blood is also partly responsible for maintaining the body's temperature, keeping pH steady, and plays a huge part in the immune system, namely the leukocytes present in blood fluid.
    If the blood pressure of a person were to drop, there could be very serious problems. Because blood is responsible for transporting oxygen throughout the body, a lower blood pressure means less oxygen reaching various parts of the body. Particularly disastrous would be a reduced amount of available oxygen for the brain. If the brain had an inadequate amount of oxygen, it would not be able to function properly and if the brain starts to malfunction, you can be sure that nothing good will come of it.

    2. As practically everyone before me has stated, an autopsy is a very effective means for studying a patient because the doctor performing the autopsy no longer has to worry about what effect his/her actions might have on the patient's health because, well, the patient is dead. If there is no risk of losing the patient, then the doctor is free to do whatever he/she wants with the organs in order to find out the source of the patient's illness, albeit a little too late. The goal of an autopsy is to figure out why the patient died. The doctor can then use this new information in order to, hopefully, prevent similar cases in the future from turning out the same way.

    Whether or not I would give permission to a doctor to perform an autopsy on a deceased relative would depend on what he or she died of. If the doctor's are certain of the cause of death and they were simply unable to treat it, then I don't feel that an autopsy would be necessary and/or beneficial. If the point of an autopsy is to gain insight into a disease and possibly find a means of combatting it in future patients, then what good would it do to perform an autopsy on a patient who's case was fully understood? However, if one of my relatives were to die unexpectedly and the doctors were unsure what had caused the sudden death, then I would be much more inclined to allow an autopsy. Perhaps the doctors could find what went wrong and take steps towards preventing future patients from suffering a similar fate.

  7. The average human being has about 5 liters of blood; 55% of that blood is composed of plasma constituting the fluid part of blood, while cells and platelets represent the other 45%. The plasma is a pale yellowish fluid with a total volume of about 2-3 liters in a normal adult, and consists of 90% water. There are three main types of proteins in the plasma, and all three are produced by the liver; they help inflame the body, help blood clot, and prevent infections from attacking the body. Blood platelets are granular non-nucleated fragments of cytoplasm in the form of oval discs. A platelet consists of two parts, a clear outer ground susbstance occupying the greater part of the platelet and a central part that contains granules. They secrete a hormone called serotonin which constricts torn blood vessels. They also have a major role in accumulating at sites of injury sticking together to plug gaps in broken blood vessels.

    Low blood pressure, or hypotension, occurs when blood pressure during and after each heartbeat is much lower than usual. This means the heart, brain, and other parts of the body do not get enough blood. This lack of blood can result in brain damage because the brain isn't getting enough blood to function properly, and may shut down some of its cognitive functions in order to survive. High blood pressure occurs when the heart is working harder and pumping a lot of blood. This can result with the arteries and veins pushing tons of blood through and put them through superfluous pressure that can damage them. Thus, blood pressure is extremely important in maintaining a patient's health and it should be used as the first sign of any mis-step in diagnosis or any problems that could arise.

    An autopsy can usually show what went wrong during a patient's death. If it was a place where the doctors could not cut through, or if there was a disease that a doctor didn't notice.

    I would allow the doctor to give an autopsy to my family if there was an uncertain cause of death. Otherwise, no go, because if you know how your family died, or if it was obvious, I wouldn't want to disfigure the body any further than it already was.

  8. I am not entirely sure that I can say things that have not already been said by the comments already posted, but I will do my best.

    1. Blood is made up of plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Red blood cells bear the responsibility of carrying oxygen, white blood cells fight infection, and platelets clot in order to stop the precious blood from going places it should not go. Blood can also be highways for hormones.

    Monitoring blood levels is important because, as a rule, if someone's blood pressure is low they are receiving less oxygen in various parts of their body which can lead to complications and in sever cases can cause fingers or toes to drop off and die (though actually in the reverse order). High blood pressure can also cause health problems, as it puts undue stress on the heart and other areas.

    2. The most important information autopsies provide is why someone died. It helps doctors find and catalogue mistakes or things they overlooked, so that the same mistakes will not be made in the future.

    I think it depends on the person who died, and what there wishes for their body were. If they were going to be cremated anyway, I'd give the go ahead, if not then I'd have to think about it. If an autopsy wasn't against the person's express wishes, I would ok an autopsy, simply because I know it might help other people live.

  9. Daniel said...

    1. Blood has basically two key elements: the plasma fluid and the functional cells within the fluid. The plasma fluid is a water solution composed of an assortment of minerals, ions and proteins that are circulated throughout the body. However, the main function of the plasma is to provide the three types blood cells a means of transportation. The three types of blood cells are red blood cells (erythrocytes), white blood cells(leukocytes) and platelets. The purpose of red blood cells is to take in oxygen from the lungs and distribute it to the cells throughout the body that need oxygen to perform its tasks. The purpose of the white blood cells is to defend the body against antigens, foreign cells or viruses that are harmful to humans. The purpose of platelets are to form blood clots around punctured veins or arteries to minimize blood loss. Maintaining a regulated blood pressure is vital because high blood pressures can cause the body to go into shock, while low blood pressure can cause the body to be oxygen deficient.

    2. The process of administering an autopsy is key in understanding how a person died, if such is unclear. It consists of cutting open a dead body and examining their organs to determine the cause of death. However, autopsies do more than just provide a cause of death for a patient. They can lead to diagnostic breakthroughs that can help future patients showing similar symptoms. I would most definitely allow an autopsy to be preformed on a family member of mine because I know that it would be more useful to the medical community than it ever would be to my family.

  10. Sasha said...

    1.)Blood is a specialized bodily fluid that is made up primarily of plasma, some chemicals and hormones, platelets, and two types of blood cells. Blood's main job is transporting oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Plasma is mostly water and some salts. It carries nutrients and is basically the “river” in which everything else travels. Blood is also the way that y important chemicals, hormones and even waste travel. The chemicals and hormones bring messages from the brain and glands to the rest of the body. Waste like CO2 and lactic acid and uric acid is moved out of the body. Platelets help clot blood when you get a cut. The two kinds of blood cells, white and red help defend the body and carry hemoglobin respectively.
    Blood is essential in assessing health. High blood pressure is quite common in America and is often associated with high fat food and clogged arteries. This is quite dangerous and can increase the risks of blood clots. Low blood pressure is associated with fainting and seizures. Neither of them are helpful in any way in terms of getting better when someone is healing from a disease.

    2.)What type of information is gained from an autopsy? An autopsy involved cutting open the patient and removing and studying several organs. Would you give permission to have a deceased family member autopsied by the medical staff? Why? Why not?
    Autopsies are very important in terms of understanding the body and its functions. We wouldn't know as much as we do about disease and how to treat it if people throughout history didn't learn about anatomy from dead bodies. Autopsies are also important in forensic medicine and can be crucial in convicting criminals. I'm in favor of autopsies, especially in the case of violence or disease. I think that organ donation is really important (although donating skin still freaks me out a little, but why not donate all that you can?) It can be hard to imagine that the eyes or heart or skin of someone that you love would be cut out and taken and used by someone else, but sometimes it is important to consider the greater good.

  11. Karli said...

    1.) Describe the composition and functions of blood. Why is monitoring blood and blood pressure so crucial to maintaining a patients course of treatment?

    The blood is necessary for multitudes of reasons. If there isn't enough blood, the brain won't get enough oxygen to sustain itself, leading to brain damage. Cells in the body will also die if they don't receive enough oxygen and nutrients. If there is a lack of oxygen, the body will essentially begin shutting down in an attempt to preserve the vital organs- the heart, lungs, liver, etc. The brain will be one of the first organs to be shut down in an attempt to conserve oxygen.
    The constant monitoring is also crucial for multiple reasons. If the person were to go into some sort of shock, as is described at the beginning of chapter 8, and the pulse/blood pressure not checked, such shock could easily be mistaken for some sort of lunacy, as Nolan mistakes it for. If the reality of the situation is not realized, it may end with the patient's severe brain damage or even death, due to a lack of blood/oxygen.

    2.) What type of information is gained from an autopsy? An autopsy involved cutting open the patient and removing and studying several organs. Would you give permission to have a deceased family member autopsied by the medical staff? Why? Why not?

    An autopsy reveals any anomalies the patient may have suffered from. Such revelations may point to scientific breakthroughs by showing exactly why the person died: what went wrong in the treatment, how the disease spread unexpectedly, etc. Such information can greatly aid other scientists in their quest to find better treatments.
    As to whether or not I would give permission for an autopsy, I think it would depend on the cause of death. If the family member had died merely from old age or something simple, I would decline permission-merely because I prefer to have the remains unscathed. However, if the cause of death was something like a rare cancer, or something went wrong in the medical procedures, I'd most likely give permission, in the hope that it could help save other people down the line.

  12. 1.Blood has two primary components: plasma fluid and three forms of cells - Red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. The Plasma fluid acts as a supportive body for the blood cells to pass through. The blood stream can be though of as swimmers in a pool, where the cells are the swimmers and the plasma is the water in the pool. the swimmers run laps, carrying oxygen to one side and carbon-dioxide back. The three blood cells all have different functions. Red blood cells act as the carries of oxygen, White blood cells defend the body from intruders. Platelets act to clot bleeding areas. Blood is extremely important to the body. It acts to transport waste hormones, chemical signals and oxygen. It is basically the transport system of the body. White blood cells are essential in fighting infections and platelets are essential in stopping blood loss.

    2. An autopsy occurs after a patient dies. The doctors attempt to discover the cause of death. They are very important, as the disease can usually be discover through this. People can gain great medical knowledge through autopsies. If I had a loved one who died, regardless of the circumstances, I would want an autopsy done. I would want to know for sure, as well as disseminate any information that could save lives in the future.