Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I've never done that before...

One of the keys to northern medicine is the ability to improvise. That means that sometimes patients ask you to figure things out that aren't in the usual physician job description. One day you might need to figure out how to use a volt meter to see if the batteries from an electric wheelchair are malfunctioning in the cold. Another day you might have to whip up a splint out of various materials around a nursing station. It's a fun part of the job, and makes you think outside of the box.
There aren't many doctors working in the arctic, but there are even fewer vets, and occasionally northern docs get asked to provide some sort of treatment to animals. Technically physicians should not treat animals, it's well outside the scope of what we are trained for, but in the absence of trained help sometimes people do what they can. There are certainly northern docs who've stitched up dogs, given infected cats antibiotics, and more. It's not ideal, but it's doing the best we can with what we have (and it is mostly in the interest of being humane rather than cavalier).
Below is an old sign from a nursing station that gives some basic medical advice for ill 4 legged friends. I'm not sure if this list ever got called into use, but it's presence in the nursing station speaks well to the spectrum of care that the health care providers in the north are asked to take on....

6 comments:

Jackie said...

Dr. H and Dr. J:

We check your blog often and are fascinated by your life in the arctic circle. We are glad that even though you aren't vets, you would help our canine cousins if they needed it.

Maxie said...

That's right! Sometimes I dream of running away and becoming a sled dog--but I like the hot sunbeams here in the desert too much.

Abby said...

Dr. J and Dr. H: Keep on doctoring and stay warm!

J.F. said...

wow! is it just me or is that a big dose of valium!

Xavier Emmanuelle said...

If you ever want to be more accurate with your gravol dosages, it is 4 mg/lb for dogs. Just so ya know :)

webhill said...

For skin infections I dose cephalexin at 22 mg/kg TID in dogs, actually :)