Just when you thought it was safe to go out ...

September 08, 1996|By DAVE BARRY | DAVE BARRY,Knight-Ridder News Service

WE HERE AT THE Bureau of Medical Alarm hope you had a restful, carefree, fun-filled summer. But before you get back into the swing of things for fall, we'd like to take just a minute to remind you that practically everything can kill you.

At the moment, we are particularly concerned about:

Latex gloves of death:

We have here a Health Advisory issued June 27 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (motto: "We Have Not Yet Determined That Our Motto Is Safe"). This advisory, which was sent in by several alert medical people, begins with the following statement: "In the spring and summer of 1995, the spontaneous combustion of powder-free latex patient examination gloves caused four fires in different states."

The advisory states that all four fires involved large quantities of gloves stored in hot warehouses. But we here at the Bureau of Medical Alarm are asking ourselves: What if a single glove (this is sometimes called the "Lone Glove" theory) were to burst into flames? What if this happened while the glove was on a doctor's hand? And what if the doctor's hand was, at that very moment, inside your personal body? One thing that would happen, of course, is the doctor would charge you a lot of money. The underlying philosophy of our entire health-care system is that the more scary, painful, dangerous and unnecessary a medical procedure is, the more it should cost. So you would definitely pay top dollar to have a flaming glove thrust into what is technically known as the Booty Region. Once word of this lucrative new procedure got around, doctors would be prescribing it for athlete's foot.

And here's a related item to be concerned about:

An alert dental surgeon named Ian Hamilton sent me the June 1996 newsletter of the Canterbury Branch of the New Zealand Dental Association, which contains a letter to the editor, accompanied by a photograph, concerning a latex medical glove that was found to have a moth embedded in one of the fingers. Yes. This means you could wind up with a burning rubberized insect inside your body. Imagine the bill you'd get for that: Flaming Booty Moth Treatment (FBMT) -- $578,000; Recharge Fire Extinguisher -- $23; Damage to Doctor's Golf Grip -- $54 million.

We know what you're wondering at this point. You're wondering: "Wouldn't 'The Flaming Booty Moths' be a great name for a rock band?" Yes, it would. But right now you have other important medical things to worry about, such as:

Deadly items up your nose:

We have here a news item from the Denver Post, written by Jim Kirksey and sent in by many alert readers, concerning a man who arrived at a hospital "with a device in his sinus cavity that potentially had the explosive force of five powerful M-80 firecrackers." The device was a trigger used to deploy automobile air bags; the man worked at a factory that manufactures the triggers, and an explosion had caused one of them to become -- in the words of a surgeon -- "lodged into his nose."

Fortunately, the device was safely removed, but the doctors were very nervous that it might go off during the surgery. Here at the Bureau of Medical Alarm we are wondering:

Why doesn't the federal government require auto manufacturers warn us that air bags contain devices that could be deadly if we get them up our noses? This is especially critical if we have very young children, who can get anything up their noses. Very young children can get things up their noses that are larger than their bodies. We think the government should require that the following statement be printed on automobile steering wheels: Warning -- do not allow very young children to disassemble the air bag and insert the explosive trigger device way up their nose, as this could result in your having to spend the rest of your life trying to explain things to your insurance company. Also you should not attempt to read this warning while operating this Look out!! (CRASH) Too late.

On a related medical note, we received a letter from Gail White, who works at a large hospital that shall remain nameless, and who relates the following incident:

"A man appeared at the emergency room with his hands over his face, demanding to see a male doctor, and to see him alone. A doctor (dreading to see some horrible disfigurement) complied with his wishes. When the man removed his hands, he was revealed to have a brassiere caught in his nose by the hooks."

No, we do not know how the brassiere got caught there. Nor do we know how many men are, right now, suffering from Brassiere Nose, but are too embarrassed to seek medical treatment. Our best guess is: thousands. If you are one of these unfortunate people, we urge you to seek medical help; your doctor can tell you about a revolutionary new procedure to correct this condition. Tell him you definitely want the moth.

Pub Date: 9/08/96

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