The medical industry is constantly evolving, and with it new technology emerges that makes procedures easier for providers and safer for patients. This influx of new and innovative ideas means that other devices and practices become obsolete. For Halloween this year, eSolutions decided to put together a list of 10 outdated medical devices that look like they came straight out of a horror movie.
The aptly named “plague doctor” treated people who were affected by the bubonic plague outbreaks during the Middle Ages. In addition to trying to treat their patients, plague doctors were also responsible for counting the number of people infected for demographic purposes. Some would wear a suit similar to the one in the image to the right to protect themselves from contamination. Along with the heavy overcoat and cane, the suit came equipped with a mask that had glass eyeholes and a long beak. The beak was stuffed with herbs and spices to protect them from any noxious air, or miasma, while treating patients.
The Fiscal Intermediary Standard System is how healthcare providers send their Medicare Part A claims in for reimbursement. After logging into FISS, providers can manually perform various tasks such as verifying patient eligibility, checking the status of a claim, and correcting claims if necessary.
Not so scary, right? Wrong. The interface is outdated, performing tasks in the FISS is slow and tedious, and it can take up to two days for corrected claims to update. And the worst part? You can’t use your mouse! If only there were tools out there to make this process easier…
If you’re in the medical field you are no doubt familiar with forceps. However, a little over 200 years ago, this tool looked much more intimidating. With a claw-like grasping end and a giant screw to adjust the tension, dentists would use these to pull rotting or damaged teeth. Unfortunately, due to the large amount of force needed to pull a tooth, other teeth could be damaged in the process. Oh, and there was also no such thing as local anesthetic.
If you’re not a fan of the dentist, just know that it could be much worse.
Image source: Science Museum
Blood letting, or bleeding, was a treatment that was widely viewed as a cure-all into the 1800’s. To perform the procedure, the triangle-shaped blade would be pressed into a vain to drain unhealthy blood. Blood letting goes back almost 2000 years and was used by Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Europeans, and Americans.
Fun fact: Blood letting was still used by barber-surgeons in the 19th century even after physicians stopped recommending it to their patients. This is why the striped barber pole is so iconic even today. The red on the pole represents blood, while the white represents bandages.
Image Source: Science Museum
Another popular method of blood letting was using leeches. Some physicians would even recommend using 50 leeches at a time. They were so popular that millions of leeches were imported into France and England during the 1830s. In 1840 an artificial alternative was invented. This nightmare tube was filled with rotating blades that would cut into the patients skin, while the knob at the top would vacuum blood out like a reverse syringe.
Image source: Phisick
While it’s true that submitting paper claims is much rarer than it used to be, it still exists among commercial payers and even Medicare under special circumstances. These days most claims are submitted electronically allowing for faster reimbursements and easier tracking. Paper claims are a horror story for your cash flow because after you send it out you just have to hope for the best. CHILLING.
Trepanning is a surgical procedure where a hole is cut or drilled into the skull to treat pain caused by neurological disorders and release pressured blood build-up from a skull injury. In addition to medical treatment, researchers also suspect that trepanning was used for ritualistic reasons.
This device was pretty common in the 1700s and it’s basically what it looks like. A drill that cuts through your skull. Don’t look at it for too long or you might get a headache.
Image source: Science Museum
A saw was a pretty common surgical tool on the battlefield, but this chainsaw takes it to a whole new level. Not what you’d normally think when someone says “chainsaw,” this tool allowed surgeons to avoid amputating an entire limb by wrapping the saw and cutting around the damaged part. This “advancement” in field surgery was around during the mid 19th century, and while it allowed surgeons to be more precise, it unfortunately still didn’t protect from infection.
Image Source: Phisick
Electroretinography is a procedure in ophthamology and optometry that measures the electrical respsonses of cell types inside the retina. It provides information about the retina’s functions and is used to research and diagnose various ocular disorders. Modern day electro-retinograms are handheld and non-threatening, but patients used to wear a horrifying mask with a bunch of wires sticking out to get the readings.
Image Source: World Health Organization
When the use of x-rays and other types of radiation was becoming more commonplace, researchers started testing how different levels of radiation affected the human body. Instead of testing different radiation levels on people, transparent mannequin-esque “phantoms” were filled with a sodium choloride solution and exposed to radiation to get measurements. For example, if an accident involving radiation occured, these phantoms would be exposed to those same levels of radiation to see how the people involved were affected. The only thing creepier than a room full of mannequins is a room full of radioactive mannequins.
Image source: U.S. National Library of Medicine