I have a Labrador named Eddie (pictured below). He eats only Eukanuba dog food. That’s because we buy it for him. If we bought him a different brand, I’m sure he would eat that as well. He might need to get a little hungry before he agreed to the switch, but my gut tells me that he would eventually concede.
Knowing my dog, probably sooner than later.
I want to quote from the Eukanuba web site:
Satisfy your dog’s taste buds with the succulent flavors of beef and rice. Your dog is sure to enjoy every bite with real beef as a key ingredient.
Reading this, one thing is clear. Dogs don’t by dog food. This product was clearly not formulated for dogs and it isn’t marketed to dogs. This product is designed to make people feel good about what they’re feeding their dogs. If dog food was made for dogs it would be cat flavored or rodent flavored or bird flavored … or maybe even other dogs butt flavored. My dog doesn’t care about succulent beef and rice. He cares about feeling full. Nobody is going to convince me that rice tastes succulent to a dog.
So what about backboards? Patients don’t buy the backboards they ride to the hospital on do they? Patients are the end users of the product, but EMS organizations make the decision which backboards to buy. It stands to reason that the backboards are probably designed more for the people who buy them than the people who use them.
You see where I’m going with this right?
If patients bougt their own backboards I suspect the design priorities would be different. I imagine the specifications might look something like this. #1) Make it comfortable to lie on for three hours. #2) Shape it like my spine. #3) Make it effective and safe. That would probably be about all.
Take a glance at your backboard and you’ll likely see a different animal (especially if you practice in the USA.) The specs for your backboard looked something like this. #1) Make it inexpensive. #2) Make it easy to clean off blood. #3) Make it light. #4) Make it easy to carry. #5) Make it in colors that are different than the other local EMS agencies.
I got to thinking about Eddie and his dog food and my patients and their backboards recently. One thing that got me rolling on the subject was an article by Dr. Brian Bledsoe about stuff they use in other countries that we don’t typically have (or use) in the US. On his list of wants … vacuum mattresses for spinal immobilization.
When you leave the friendly confines of the U.S., you rarely see a backboard. In all other industrialized countries, EMTs and paramedics don’t provide spinal immobilization unless there is a high index of suspicion. When spinal immobilization is applied, the vacuum mattress is commonly used.
– Dr. Bryan Bledsoe
Then I ran across a new study that reported just 5 cm of padding on a standard backboard almost completely redistributes the pressure from the scapula and sacrum to the whole of the posterior. I’m sure most of us didn’t need a study to tell us that but if you want to argue the point, at least now you have a leg to stand on.
But why should we have to argue the point? Shouldn’t we have been designing backboards with the patients comfort in mind from the start? I think a large part of that answer lies in Eddie’s dog food and who makes the decision to buy a thing. Like succulent rice and beef … or backboards.
I pad my backboards with a few hospital blankets when I have the chance. Sometimes it makes the ride more comfortable. Other times it doesn’t work so great. It’s a band-aid (so to speak) for now. But let’s face it, we’re not just talking about backboards here. There is a “purchasing agent” focus in most of our medical equipment design.
If patients bought their own oxygen masks would they still be smothering pieces of stinky plastic held to the head with rubber-bands? Would nasopharyngeal airways still be made of the same hard rubber used for racquetballs? What about IV tape, tourniquets, ET tubes, blood pressure cuffs, ecg patches and limb splints? I suspect all of these devices would undergo some design makeovers if the patient were in charge of equipment purchasing.
For now we have to make do with what’s available, make accommodations when we can and advocate for patient comfort. But I still think the idea of rabbit flavored dog food has merit.