We can't depend exclusively on professionals

We can't depend exclusively on professionals

Joined: October 11th, 2005, 9:18 pm

February 8th, 2009, 5:21 pm #1

Melody, you can insist all you want that we exclusively use professionals, but it's simply not practical.

1. The professional would also need to learn cryonics. It is rare to have a professional such as yourself be interested in cryonics. You can't possibly take a perfusionist who has no interest in cryonics and expect them to invest the time and energy necessary to learn cryonics. There's much more to cryonics than perfusion. The learning curve goes both ways, you know. A hired professional would have to actually be motivated to improve the situation. This is extremely unlikely. If we try to depend exclusively on professionals to do cryonics, we are much more likely to end up with more Larry Johnsons. It's just too big of a reality shift for an outsider to absorb.

2. We can't generally afford professionals. Not when those same professionals can easily get good paying jobs in traditional health care. Health care is subsidized by the government. We can't match that level of spending.

3. Professionals need to come from within the cryonics community. Because we can't usually hire external help, we need to look within our own ranks for the skills needed. There are few now, but the numbers will gradually grow. Remember that they not only need to be professionals, but they also need to be willing to relocate, change their lifestyles, etc.

4. There are few professionals within our ranks who are willing to get involved. Mike certainly qualifies as a professional, having worked in a hospital setting his entire life in areas that are intentionally very similar to cryonics. Yes, a veterinarian could also be classified as a professional after a certain amount of cross training and experience. But even these kinds of "professionals" are infrequent in cryonics. We do the best we can with the very few professionals we have.

5. Lacking professionals, the best option is to use enthusiastic non-professionals. This is what Alcor and CI do. These non-professionals are very intelligent and have spent many years trying to learn the necessary skills. It's not an ideal situation, but it's the best we can do.

However, some of your biggest objections have been the SA staff. I think everyone agrees that this is the worst of both worlds. They do not fit my criteria for acceptable staff. They do not come from within cryonics, and neither are they professionals.
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Joined: April 30th, 2006, 1:38 am

February 9th, 2009, 3:31 pm #2

Jordan: "Melody, you can insist all you want that we exclusively use professionals, but it's simply not practical."
1. The professional would also need to learn cryonics. It is rare to have a professional such as yourself be interested in cryonics. You can't possibly take a perfusionist who has no interest in cryonics and expect them to invest the time and energy necessary to learn cryonics. There's much more to cryonics than perfusion. The learning curve goes both ways, you know. A hired professional would have to actually be motivated to improve the situation. This is extremely unlikely. If we try to depend exclusively on professionals to do cryonics, we are much more likely to end up with more Larry Johnsons. It's just too big of a reality shift for an outsider to absorb."


I would wager it's a lot more "realistic" AND "practical" to expect a medical professional with a basic understanding of anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, pharmacology, etc., to learn about cryonics, than it is to expect a layman to learn everything they need to know about medicine AND cryonics from people like Charles Platt and Mike Darwin. (I doubt either one will appreciate being associated with the other, but I find them to be similar, in regards to thinking they can teach laymen everything they know, to perform cryonics procedures).


Jordan: "2. We can't generally afford professionals. Not when those same professionals can easily get good paying jobs in traditional health care. Health care is subsidized by the government. We can't match that level of spending."

If Jordan wants to limit that remark to CI and/or ACS, I might hold it valid. However, all the other organizations CAN afford professionals, and if they were providing the quality of service they SHOULD be providing, CI would probably have to: either raise their prices, find more funding, or go out of business. This constant comparison to expenditures and government involvement, in regard to cryonics vs. conventional medicine, is foolish...cryonics doesn't need to "match that level of spending." A lot of the technology and equipment already exists, and we're only talking about a handful of procedures, per year, for goodness sakes!


"3. Professionals need to come from within the cryonics community. Because we can't usually hire external help, we need to look within our own ranks for the skills needed. There are few now, but the numbers will gradually grow. Remember that they not only need to be professionals, but they also need to be willing to relocate, change their lifestyles, etc."

Nonsense. Jordan may WANT them to come from within the cryonics community, but they don't NEED to. I believe this argument is most often put forth by people who either want to maintain their salary, or their "expert" status, in cryonics. In addition, again, I'll put forth that cryonics' ranks might be increased, if the patient care providers didn't appear to be a bunch of bumbling idiots, in the public eye, more often than not.


Jordan: "4. There are few professionals within our ranks who are willing to get involved. Mike certainly qualifies as a professional, having worked in a hospital setting his entire life in areas that are intentionally very similar to cryonics. Yes, a veterinarian could also be classified as a professional after a certain amount of cross training and experience. But even these kinds of "professionals" are infrequent in cryonics. We do the best we can with the very few professionals we have."

Same answer as #3, and Jordan doesn't want me to keep discussing Mike Darwin's qualifications, because I'll get really nasty, and he might be inclined to curse at me, again, (Jordan, not Mike, though he might want to, also).


Jordan: "5. Lacking professionals, the best option is to use enthusiastic non-professionals. This is what Alcor and CI do. These non-professionals are very intelligent and have spent many years trying to learn the necessary skills. It's not an ideal situation, but it's the best we can do."

Same answer as #3 and #4. "Trying" is the key word, here, and their "best" is not good enough, in my opinion. (Yes, "something" is better than "nothing," but neither one of them is as good as "better.")


Jordan: "However, some of your biggest objections have been the SA staff. I think everyone agrees that this is the worst of both worlds. They do not fit my criteria for acceptable staff. They do not come from within cryonics, and neither are they professionals."

I think this is the only valid point Jordan made. Not only are the SA staff members not qualified to perform the procedures, I don't believe many, (if any), of them care a bit about cryonics, (other than Mathew, of course).
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Joined: March 11th, 2007, 9:57 am

February 10th, 2009, 6:12 am #3

Jordan identifies most of the problems regarding licensed professionals in cryonics. I would add one more and I'll do so with a true story.

When I decided to leave cryonics as a service provider in 1997 an effort was made to hire a licensed medical professional to take over BioPreservation and, in effect, replace me. Ads for this position were placed in the appropriate physician recruiting venues and there were a fair number of responses. At least half a dozen (and maybe more) were interviewed in person. All of these people were good candidates for the job.
The physicians who responded to the adverts fell into two broad categories: highly qualified people with an interest in doing something new and challenging (some were actually interested in cryonics, per se) and 'losers' with a terrible work history and often with evidence of substance abuse or other psychological problems. Obviously, we chose our candidates from the former group. The salary was excellent as were the job benefits.

So, why didn't we get a top-flight physician with the requisite skills and background? Why were we also unable to hire a full time Board Certified perfusionist? The answer was simple: malpractice and liability insurance, or more properly, inability to provide same.

With everyone we interviewed these questions invariably arose, "What happens if I get sued? How do I get malpractice insurance? What happens if I lose my license and thus my livelihood?" There were no acceptable answers to these questions for these professionals. Perhaps we were foolish for being honest with them about the possible risks to their careers and licenses if they became involved in cryonics. But, we felt it better they know these things sooner rather than later.
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Joined: October 11th, 2005, 9:18 pm

February 10th, 2009, 5:10 pm #4

There's nothing preventing them from getting malpractice insurance that I'm aware of. In fact, unless they are fresh out of school, they probably already have it, and it's a simple matter of continuing to make the premium payments. As for losing their license, no professional board would do that without a very stern warning first. As long as proper records are kept and as long as controlled substances are not abused, I can't think of anything that would cause a board to take away a license without warning.
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Joined: April 30th, 2006, 1:38 am

February 10th, 2009, 6:35 pm #5

...to perform procedures on "legally dead" patients?

It's not like anyone is going to be "reanimated," anytime soon, and someone will accuse the perfusionist of doing something that caused neurological damage to the patient.
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Joined: July 1st, 2007, 8:16 am

February 10th, 2009, 7:12 pm #6

Well, they might accidently revive someone and get sued for wrongfull life
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Mike Darwin
Mike Darwin

February 10th, 2009, 10:57 pm #7

Physician malpractice insurance is issued on the basis of risk and specialty. As an example, many Ob/Gyn physicians and obstetricians have left or are leaving their fields because their malpractice premiums now consume the majority of their net income. This has resulted in a serious shortage of physicians in these specialties. Over the years a number of attempts have been made to obtain malpractice coverage for physicians who were (or who wished to be) engaged in providing human cryopreservation services. This proved impossible for several reasons, including the inability of the insurer to determine the risk, and thus determine how much to charge for coverage (i.e., premium payments). Other factors involved were general distaste for the weird and unusual nature of cryonics, lack of any significant volume of customers to recompense the time involved for a one-off effort, and the arguably justified fear, based on the sensational legal battles that have dogged cryonics since 1967, that the insurer might have to pay for legal services or even a judgment (see newclip at the end, below).

Probably unknown to everyone here is that lawsuits have either been brought or been threatened against medical professionals who have delivered services to cryopatients in the past. One notable and public case was the threatened litigation (which made the tabloid press) against the entire perfusion team involved in the care of BACS (now ACS) and Trans Time patient Samuel Berkowitz. Mr. Berkowitz was cryopreserved by his son and wife (and was in fact a long time cryonicist himself) in 1978 (see case report below). An immediate consequence of this case was that the local (Fullerton, CA) police were called by a neighboring tenant in the industrial park where Cryovita Laboratories (the perfusion services provider) was located and several mainstream media articles resulted. Several of the professionals involved thus found their names in the public eye in conjunction with 'freezing dead bodies for future reanimation.'

Subsequently, as a result of financial losses sustained by Mr. Berkowitz's family during the savings and loan crisis in the 1980s, the family found themselves unable to pay for continued cryogenic care. Offers were made by Jerry Leaf and I to pay for Mr. Berkowitzs continued care as a neuropatient, but these were unacceptable to his son, Joe Berk.

Mr. Berk became increasingly desperate and irrational and finally retained an attorney and prepared a lawsuit against the entire perfusion team who had cared for his father. This team, by the way, consisted of two professional perfusionists (one Board Certified), a licensed RN and a licensed medical technologist. Several other team members were affluent and successful professionals or bussiness people with potentially deep pockets.

Mr. Berks attorney sent numerous letters to the various California state licensing boards complaining about cryonics and the alleged misconduct of the medical professionals involved. Letters were also sent to these individuals employers and their names were made public in the context of the allegations in the tabloid press. The mainstream media covered the story a little, but without much detail.

While no formal litigation ever transpired, the effects of this incident were devastating. The medical technologist, a woman who was married to an affluent businessman, was given an ultimatum by her husband to cease participating in cryonics cases, with which shecomplied. While Jerry Leaf continued involvement in cryonics, the other perfusionist did not. The RN remained active but at great cost in terms of marital discord and worry. Jerry and several of the other team members retained attorneys to advise them. The costs for this were a serious burden for these middle class working people and, had the litigation materialized, the costs of legal counsel alone would have been ruinous. In all cases the employers who received letters from Mr. Berks attorney were very unhappy and made their displeasure known to their employees. The point here is that it matters not if you prevail in litigation against you, or even if the litigation ultimately materializes; the financial and psychological costs can be devastating as soon as the issue arises.

It is also (ironically) worth noting that the core allegation of malpractice in this case was that the team had pumped air into Mr. Berkowitzs circulatory system. This accusation was false. It was based on a statement in Mr. Berkowtizs published case report (reproduced below) wherein Jerry Leaf noted that at one point the oxygenator was pumped dry, but that the patient was NOT air embolized. Mr. Berk's attorney felt (rightly so, I believe) that even in cryonics cases air embolization during a perfusion procedure would be considered malpractice, or at very least fraud in the sense that it had been represented to his client that the perfusion procedures would be carried out to medical standards. The fact that the case report stated clearly that no airhad been pumped was of no consequence to Mr. Berk or to hios attorney. They may have (correctly) presumed that litigation, whether justified or not, would cause distress and expense. [Note: The LongLife magazine (long defunct) in which this article appeared was no relation to the current Long Life magazine published by the Immortalist Society.]

As to medical licensure, state Medical Boards are, as I have previously noted here, made up mostly of physicians, and in general Jordan is correct that they warn before they drop the axe. However, this is not always the case, and it is much less likely to be so in cases where the activity in question is perceived as quackery, criminal in nature or has caused public outrage. I know of two cases where physicians have received letters of censure because of their involvement in cryonics and one case where the physician arguably came very close to either being suspended or losing his license. It is my opinion (which may not be worth much) that if it were not the (correct) perception by the state Medical Board that such action on their part would have resulted in an aggressive and financially robust defense they would have taken more aggressive action than they did.

Apart from civil issues there is the potential for criminal issues. Cryonics is a tempting target for liars and psychopaths, as well as for opportunistic or genuinely troubled public officials, to cry homicide or to insinuate the same. This has become less of an issue since it has been a long while since cryopatients received highly effective immediate post-arrest cardiopulmonary support. In the past, drugs were given to guard against cerebral (spontaneous movement) cardiac and respiratory auto-resuscitation (return of spontaneous heartbeat and agonal gasping or even effective ventilation (breathing). Auto-resuscitation will occur in somewhere between 10% and 30% of patients arresting from non-cardiac causes (i.e., some cancer, AIDS, CHF, COPD, ESLF patients). This practice has been discontinued to avoid the misperception that cryopatients were being euthanized. This creates a damned if you do, damned if you dont situation. I would also point out that, while rare, under some circumstances cardiac auto-resuscitation can occur even after an hour of medico-legal death.

This is but one of the myriad situations in which the untutored professional can find himself ensnared. There are many, many others and some which I, no doubt, have not yet thought of, witnessed or experienced. That is the nature of doing something fundamentally new and different like cryonics - leaving aside the issue of the challenge and irritation it presents to the established order. Professionals who wish to become involved in cryonics need to be told about these issues and engaged as active and fully informed partners in finding solutions to them.










With headlines and articles like this, who can blame insurers for declining to take on professionals involved in cryonics:



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Joined: March 11th, 2007, 9:57 am

February 10th, 2009, 11:09 pm #8

Well, they might accidently revive someone and get sued for wrongfull life
Physician malpractice insurance is issued on the basis of risk and specialty. As an example, many Ob/Gyn physicians and obstetricians have left or are leaving their fields because their malpractice premiums now consume the majority of their net income. This has resulted in a serious shortage of physicians in these specialties. Over the years a number of attempts have been made to obtain malpractice coverage for physicians who were (or who wished to be) engaged in providing human cryopreservation services. This proved impossible for several reasons, including the inability of the insurer to determine the risk, and thus determine how much to charge for coverage (i.e., premium payments). Other factors involved were general distaste for the weird and unusual nature of cryonics, lack of any significant volume of customers to recompense the time involved for a one-off effort, and the arguably justified fear, based on the sensational legal battles that have dogged cryonics since 1967, that the insurer might have to pay for legal services or even a judgment (see newclip at the end, below).

Probably unknown to everyone here is that lawsuits have either been brought or been threatened against medical professionals who have delivered services to cryopatients in the past. One notable and public case was the threatened litigation (which made the tabloid press) against the entire perfusion team involved in the care of BACS (now ACS) and Trans Time patient Samuel Berkowitz. Mr. Berkowitz was cryopreserved by his son and wife (and was in fact a long time cryonicist himself) in 1978 (see case report below). An immediate consequence of this case was that the local (Fullerton, CA) police were called by a neighboring tenant in the industrial park where Cryovita Laboratories (the perfusion services provider) was located and several mainstream media articles resulted. Several of the professionals involved thus found their names in the public eye in conjunction with 'freezing dead bodies for future reanimation.'

Subsequently, as a result of financial losses sustained by Mr. Berkowitz's family during the savings and loan crisis in the 1980s, the family found themselves unable to pay for continued cryogenic care. Offers were made by Jerry Leaf and I to pay for Mr. Berkowitzs continued care as a neuropatient, but these were unacceptable to his son, Joe Berk.

Mr. Berk became increasingly desperate and irrational and finally retained an attorney and prepared a lawsuit against the entire perfusion team who had cared for his father. This team, by the way, consisted of two professional perfusionists (one Board Certified), a licensed RN and a licensed medical technologist. Several other team members were affluent and successful professionals or bussiness people with potentially deep pockets.

Mr. Berks attorney sent numerous letters to the various California state licensing boards complaining about cryonics and the alleged misconduct of the medical professionals involved. Letters were also sent to these individuals employers and their names were made public in the context of the allegations in the tabloid press. The mainstream media covered the story a little, but without much detail.

While no formal litigation ever transpired, the effects of this incident were devastating. The medical technologist, a woman who was married to an affluent businessman, was given an ultimatum by her husband to cease participating in cryonics cases, with which shecomplied. While Jerry Leaf continued involvement in cryonics, the other perfusionist did not. The RN remained active but at great cost in terms of marital discord and worry. Jerry and several of the other team members retained attorneys to advise them. The costs for this were a serious burden for these middle class working people and, had the litigation materialized, the costs of legal counsel alone would have been ruinous. In all cases the employers who received letters from Mr. Berks attorney were very unhappy and made their displeasure known to their employees. The point here is that it matters not if you prevail in litigation against you, or even if the litigation ultimately materializes; the financial and psychological costs can be devastating as soon as the issue arises.

It is also (ironically) worth noting that the core allegation of malpractice in this case was that the team had pumped air into Mr. Berkowitzs circulatory system. This accusation was false. It was based on a statement in Mr. Berkowtizs published case report (posted seperately) wherein Jerry Leaf noted that at one point the oxygenator was pumped dry, but that the patient was NOT air embolized. Mr. Berk's attorney felt (rightly so, I believe) that even in cryonics cases air embolization during a perfusion procedure would be considered malpractice, or at very least fraud in the sense that it had been represented to his client that the perfusion procedures would be carried out to medical standards. The fact that the case report stated clearly that no airhad been pumped was of no consequence to Mr. Berk or to hios attorney. They may have (correctly) presumed that litigation, whether justified or not, would cause distress and expense. [Note: The LongLife magazine (long defunct) in which this article appeared was no relation to the current Long Life magazine published by the Immortalist Society.]

As to medical licensure, state Medical Boards are, as I have previously noted here, made up mostly of physicians, and in general Jordan is correct that they warn before they drop the axe. However, this is not always the case, and it is much less likely to be so in cases where the activity in question is perceived as quackery, criminal in nature or has caused public outrage. I know of two cases where physicians have received letters of censure because of their involvement in cryonics and one case where the physician arguably came very close to either being suspended or losing his license. It is my opinion (which may not be worth much) that if it were not the (correct) perception by the state Medical Board that such action on their part would have resulted in an aggressive and financially robust defense they would have taken more aggressive action than they did.

Apart from civil issues there is the potential for criminal issues. Cryonics is a tempting target for liars and psychopaths, as well as for opportunistic or genuinely troubled public officials, to cry homicide or to insinuate the same. This has become less of an issue since it has been a long while since cryopatients received highly effective immediate post-arrest cardiopulmonary support. In the past, drugs were given to guard against cerebral (spontaneous movement) cardiac and respiratory auto-resuscitation (return of spontaneous heartbeat and agonal gasping or even effective ventilation (breathing). Auto-resuscitation will occur in somewhere between 10% and 30% of patients arresting from non-cardiac causes (i.e., some cancer, AIDS, CHF, COPD, ESLF patients). This practice has been discontinued to avoid the misperception that cryopatients were being euthanized. This creates a damned if you do, damned if you dont situation. I would also point out that, while rare, under some circumstances cardiac auto-resuscitation can occur even after an hour of medico-legal death.

This is but one of the myriad situations in which the untutored professional can find himself ensnared. There are many, many others and some which I, no doubt, have not yet thought of, witnessed or experienced. That is the nature of doing something fundamentally new and different like cryonics - leaving aside the issue of the challenge and irritation it presents to the established order. Professionals who wish to become involved in cryonics need to be told about these issues and engaged as active and fully informed partners in finding solutions to them.









With headlines and stories like the one below, who can blame insurers from declining to cover professionals involved with cryonics?


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Joined: July 1st, 2007, 8:16 am

February 11th, 2009, 1:04 am #9

Mike Darwin: “Mr. Berk's attorney felt (rightly so, I believe) that even in cryonics cases air embolization during a perfusion procedure would be considered malpractice, or at very least fraud in the sense that it had been represented to his client that the perfusion procedures would be carried out to medical standards.”

With this I whole heartily agree. The history frequently repeats itself. Recently where were reports in the case of a cryo patient ( CI-81) that unqualified blue-collar workers performed medical procedure (perfusion) causing to a cryo patient serious damages of overpressurization (and possibly embolism), along with a failure to use heparin. Their case medical adviser (an M.D.), who advised them remotely by telephone during the perfusion, stated that he did not offer them relevant medical advice because they did not ask specifically about preventing these particular problems. Not only that, but it was also revealed that ancient medical drugs, up to ten years past their expiration date were used. Again, with the knowledge and consent of this unnamed medical doctor. This was somewhat quietly swept under the rug, and no investigation of this took place. Many may disagree with me on this, but I think this was wrong and should have been investigated and a corrective action should be taken. Most of those who disagree, do so not because they do not believe hat a misconduct occurred, but because they are afraid of bad publicity. By such standard no medical misconduct ever would be investigated and corrected.

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Joined: March 11th, 2007, 9:57 am

February 11th, 2009, 7:42 am #10

Desert Rat writes:

"Recently where were reports in the case of a cryo patient ( CI-81) that unqualified blue-collar workers performed medical procedure (perfusion) causing to a cryo patient serious damages of overpressurization (and possibly embolism), along with a failure to use heparin."

I have not reviewed this case report carefully - so, I can't comment on the specifics. One problem with these kinds of case reports is that they do not provide the kind of documentation needed to be definitive; no central venous pressure or cm of fall from the groin wound to the venous reservoir, no details of the circuit, no photographs or videography and so on. These deficiencies in and of themselves should be cause for concern.

I would also note that the remarks quoted above contain what I know to be an incorrect statement, namely that 'unqualified blue-collar workers' performed the procedure. I have met and am familiar with the CVs of all of the personnel who were on that case and none of them can be characterized as blue collar workers. Blue collar workers are 'wage earners whose jobs are performed in work clothes and often involve manual labor.' I don't dispute that that they were very likely not qualified to carry out the procedure, but they are not blue collar workers.

The problems with the quoted material above are that an opinion based on Ms. Maxim's interpretation of the case report is presented as a fact. This is all too common on Cold Filter as is the use of inaccurate or deceptive characterizations such as describing the (then) SA personnel as blue collar workers. The problem with these kinds of sloppy or outright false remarks is that they degrade or even destroy the credibility of the legitimate criticisms that appear here. There is no shortage of technical gaffes and plain bad treatment of members and patients in cryonics; particularly recently at Alcor. So, why gild the lily or make up bad acts out of whole cloth?

As someone else remarked to me recently, 'On CF, if you repeat an opinion as a fact often enough it becomes both a fact and a part of history.' In looking over some of the threads here I have to concur. And, that's a pity, because mixed in with the wild speculation and outright falsehoods are legitimate issues of enormous importance that will likely go unaddressed.

Sometimes I know the back story where elaborate conspiracy schemes or accusations of cover-up are put forward here and I have to shake my head and laugh. Mostly, the reality is that simple stupidity or indifference is the cause of seemingly sinister events. If there were serious errors made in this CI case it would be amazing to me if anyone still employed at SA was going to acknowledge them. In fact, based on my experiences there in 2006, I'd be surprised if the personnel who performed the procedure would have any way of knowing (in many instances) what constituted a serious error let alone that it had occurred.
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