Monday, October 26, 2015

The view from here: treating epilepsy in Maine is in the news

I’ll start this blog entry with a personal touch, revealing a little bit about where I live and then I will discuss an interesting debate going on in my home state.
I am very fortunate to live on a salt water river in Maine, and these photos were taken from my front yard at sunrise and sunset.  I live for my time on the water and had lots of wonderful boat rides this summer.   Soon to come to an end as the boat will be coming out of the water this week!
The river at dawn...

 And at sunset

  Since I work from a home office that overlooks this river, I have extra perks along with my wonderful job working for ASET!  How can you get stressed out with seals swimming by and eagles soaring overhead!  I am very thankful that I have this job and have enjoyed serving as Director of Education for ASET for eleven years now!  One of the things I like best is the vast variety of calls I receive every day.  Many calls are from the general public, seeking information about how to pursue a career in Neurodiagnostics.  Some of the most interesting calls come from technologists from all over the country each with a unique situation, seeking information or assistance.  Some examples:  where to find a policy and procedure document for carotid endarterectomies, justification for a salary increase, establishing a patient to technologist ratio for an epilepsy monitoring unit, and docs calling desperately seeking to hire qualified technologists!
Epilepsy has been in the news here lately.  Some children with epilepsy have a prescription for Diastat,  to be given emergently during a severe seizure.  Parents typically send a dose to school to be kept on hand, but the current state law allows only the school nurse to administer the medication and it must be kept locked up in the nurse’s office.  Practically, this can lead to significant delays in accessing and administering the drug quickly.  A group of parents are actively seeking to change the law to allow teachers to be trained and authorized to give the drug as well and keep in in the classroom.
Maine has also been in the news regarding the approval to distribute medical marijuana to patients while in the hospital.  Because it breaks federal law, hospitals cannot consider allowing medical marijuana to be given to in-patients without the risk of losing federal funds.  So parents are put in a difficult situation if they have determined that this treatment has been effective for a child who has epilepsy when the child is admitted for treatment.  News stories feature parents who admit to secretly bringing the drug in and giving to their child, and therefore committing a criminal act.  The two largest medical centers in Maine do dispense a synthetic marijuana, called marinol, to patients but there is a debate about its efficacy.  A bill allowing hospitals in the state to distribute medical marijuana did pass in the state legislature but was vetoed by the governor. 
I will be following the debate about these two controversial treatments for epilepsy.  At the ASET annual conference in Weston, FL this summer, Dr. Jason Sebesto, from the local Mayo Clinic, gave a great presentation:  “Cannabinoids and the Treatment of Epilepsy”.  Since technologists often discuss medications and treatments with their patients as they take a history, it is helpful to have an understanding of alternative treatments and the legal issues that patients encounter.

No comments:

Post a Comment