CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Surgical implant already available, linking to your doctor

A surgically implanted device is already available that can send information to your medical doctor.

In Monitoring Your Heart via the Internet (2/28/07), the Wall Street Journal reported on FDA considerationg of an implantable sensor from Medtronic Inc. "that would be used by very sick patients with heart failure, in hopes of keeping them out of the emergency room."

The device, known as a "hemodynamic monitor," is designed to measure pressure inside the heart, along with body temperature and heart rate. The information is transmitted wirelessly via the Internet to a doctor's office. There, medical personnel can tell, for example, if the patient is quickly building up fluids that could pool in the lungs, a potentially life-threatening situation. Depending on the patient's condition and how hectic the doctor's office is, the device could be set to send reports weekly, or even once or twice daily. The device doesn't send alerts in an emergency, so the doctor must check the data on a regular basis.

This is in keeping with the prediction that we would be wearing, within our bodies, implantable devices that feedback information to healthcare providers - or that to us.

A kind of medical ipod for the body.

"This is a new era in device therapy," says Leslie A. Saxon, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Southern California and one of the researchers in the Medtronic study. "This heralds an era of 'body computing,' in which we can tailor medical therapy" based on continuous measurements from within patients.

There is also a dark side, which is that information can be downloaded wherever it can be uploaded. And who will control the information? What are the ethics of changing our bodies to physically incorporate the technology?

Experts predict the day will come when such diagnostic (and later, nanotechnicological therapeutic) implants are routinely incorporated into the physical body, effectively redesigning the human being from the molecular ground, up. If so, the first wave is already here.

Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen offers general corporate legal services, litigation consultation, and expertise in health law with a unique focus on alternative, complementary, and integrative medical therapies.

Michael H. Cohen is Principal in Law Offices of Michael H. Cohen and also President of the Institute for Integrative and Energy Medicine (also known as the Institute for Health, Ethics, Law, Policy & Society), a forum for exploration of legal, regulatory, ethical, and health policy issues involved in the judicious integration of complementary and alternative medical therapies (such as acupuncture and traditional oriental medicine, chiropractic, massage therapy, herbal medicine) and conventional clinical care. The most recent published book by Michael H. Cohen on health care law, regulation, ethics and policy pertaining to complementary, alternative and integrative medicine and related fields is Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion. This is the fourth book in a series, following Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives (1998), Beyond Complementary Medicine: Legal and Ethical Perspectives on Health Care and Human Evolution (2000), and Future Medicine: Ethical Dilemmas, Regulatory Challenges, and Therapeutic Pathways to Health Care and Healing in Human Transformation (2003).

Health care and corporate lawyer Michael H. Cohen has also been admitted to the Bar of England and Wales as a Solicitor (non-practicing), adding to Bar membership in four U.S. states.

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Michael H. Cohen, Esq.; 468 North Camden Dr. | Beverly Hills, California 90210 | 310-844-3173