Never gave a thought to this before, but with the advent of synthetic joints, titanium plates, heart pacemakers, heart valves and other surgical implants, there must be an increasing number of dead bodies with non-human parts.. so what happens to them?
In the case of body burials, quite often these parts remain unretrieved. Such would be the case in artificial hips and other difficult-to-remove surgical implants. I do know that a serious attempt attempt is made to remove cardiac pacemakers from a dead patient in some hospitals.
In the case of cremated bodies, such parts are retrievable among the ashes. In fact, there are companies which recycle metal implants from cremated human bodies. That’s everything from steel pins to titanium hips and cobalt-chrome knees. In the US alone, there are quite a few companies which even use magnets to sort out the metallic parts from the cremated remains.
One such company, Orthometals, has been in the business for 15 years and recycles 250 tons of body parts annually. The company works by collecting the metal implants for nothing, sorting them and then selling them – taking care to see that they are melted down, rather than reused.
Now, with the rising trend in cremation, largely to save space and cost (in the US 40% of bodies are cremated, but the figure is going up), The retrieval of body-parts is also increasing. Another reason given for the increase in cremation is socio-cultural. More and more families feel that, instead of visiting deceased relatives year after year, they would rather scatter the ashes and be left with no obligations after that.
- Ultimate recycling: Artificial joints after cremation (philly.com)
- Recycling Surgical Implants (business-opportunities.biz)
Understandably, who wants to get admitted to a hospital? But life is such, and in the unavoidable event that this is to happen, it would be wise, if possible, not to get in on a weekend.
The British Independent newspaper highlighted this under the ominous headline, “Weekends worse for hospital deaths” recently. It pointed out that an NHS London study found patients admitted to hospital at weekends were more at risk of dying than those treated during the week, largely due to a lack of hospital consultants at weekends.
Quite frankly, most hospitals throughout the world operate on skeleton staff during weekends just to provide the basic services on-site. On the occasion where an urgent specialist referral is required, a duty roster is in existence to summon the specialist from his home, but this usually takes some time. If an emergency procedure is required, there is bound to be a time lapse before all available personnel can be summoned.
Many hospitals cut off ‘non-essential services’ after office-hours. You’ll be hard-pressed to find dieticians , physiotherapists and some specialists on weekends.The reason is largely pure economics – having then around means paying overtime wages which in the long run may not be economically feasible. Economics aside, hospital staff are basically human and require their rest and ‘me time’ like the rest of us.
It may seem unfair, but hospitals do charge an ‘overtime fee’ or surcharge if services are provided after office-hours, to compensate for the overtime charges of their staff on duty. A CT scan can easily cost double the usual charge if done on weekends. Its okay, the insurance will pay for it, you may say. But third-party payors are getting wise; and, apart from co-payments (where a percentage of the hospital charge has to be paid by the consumer), insurance companies have been known to refuse to pay if such procedures are deemed (in their eyes) to be of a non-emergency nature.
For elective procedures, one would be well-advised to have then done during weekdays, if only to ensure that the full staff complement is at hand, should the need arise for their involvement.
- A&E death rates ‘rise on weekends’ (mirror.co.uk)
- NHS hospitals have higher death rates at weekends, research finds (guardian.co.uk)
- Hospital care at weekends ‘risky’ (bbc.co.uk)