Termination: AV Operations

AV Operations.


20 December 2017

Text:/ Graeme Hague

There’s a lot of information in this issue about hospitals AV systems. Let me assure you, I’m quite an expert on the subject. I’ve watched every episode of Scrubs at least twice. This is serious stuff.

Even if you’re discussing AV equipment in a professional and technical manner — as you’d always expect from this august publication — I’ll admit that whenever someone mentions ‘cameras’ and ‘hospitals’ in the same breath I’ll still think first of doctors sending a cam up your clacker to ensure you haven’t swallowed any nails or bits of beer bottles — and that’s not as silly as it sounds. Some bloke in India had treatment for ‘food poisoning’ and surgeons discovered seven kilograms of coins, nails (the roofing kind, not the things on the end of your fingers), razor blades and sundry bits of glass in his stomach. Not exactly the Five-Two diet plan then. [Send him to Australia, would make for a good episode of Border Security  — Ed.]

A life-saving procedure, not to mention some instant weight-loss, but all the same do we really want to watch all that stuff on a telly somehow? Live or recorded? Not even popcorn and a few cold beers will make it entertaining. I suppose they can record everything that happens during operations, and if the patient inadvertently shuffles off the mortal coil the surgeons can rewind the tape to see what they did wrong.

Wait a minute… things go wrong in a hospital? Surely not.


I can see another possible advantage. As someone with more than a passing interest in ghosts and ghouls, and things that go bump in the maternity ward, if hospitals were chockers with AV equipment in a Big Brother kind of way, maybe we’ll finally get decent, incontrovertible footage of somebody’s ghost leaving their body and getting sucked into the air conditioning exhaust vents. Mind you, it’s more likely the cameras will only catch the Surgeon General sneaking a quick fag outside next to the dumpsters.

Hmm… proper signage is possible with good AV. How many times have you trudged through endless corridors in a hospital, following laminated signs blue-tacked to the walls —only to figure out you were in the right place when you first walked in the building? The solution can be big AV screens with flashing messages like, “If you’re having a colon removed, follow the Green arrows,” and “If you’re having your spleen replaced, follow the Red arrows”. Helpful intuitive touchscreens can provide clear directions to anywhere with huge, 52-inch clarity. Make a selection, press for instructions and you’ll get perhaps, “Treatment for STDs is available in Ward 2”. Everyone in the queue can help you plan a route through the halls. While they surreptitiously clean the screen with some hospital-strength White King.


I suppose, seriously, the best advance in medical science provided by AV equipment will be in training and education. The students won’t need to dig up corpses in the middle of the night to practise on. Everybody will be able to observe the experts in glorious, 4K resolution and 400 billionty colours, although I’m not sure that many colours are needed — just lots of red and green resolution (for the gangrene bits) should do. Everyone could have an app for using those virtual crayons the cricket commentators apply so liberally to our TV screens. Make observations along the lines of, “No, I’m pretty sure the appendix is this thing here,” and draw a circle around it. Or maybe, “No, this is the bad lung… I think,” and scribble a happyface on the good one. 

Having so much AV inside a hospital will no doubt create employment opportunities for technicians in the industry. Permanent maintenance staff will be needed when equipment regularly fails after being hosed with arterial blood, projectile vomiting or is accidentally zapped with those paddle thingies (Clear!) — which otherwise seem to revive everything, but probably aren’t good for rebooting operating systems. The surge in AV has been a job-making plus ever since displays and audiovisual gear began sneaking into all sorts of places where, before, they only used blackboards and Post-it notes (like for planning heart surgery). However, new practises will need to be in place to prevent your average AV tech from inadvertently wandering into a testicularectomy procedure when he only wanted to change the batteries in the TV remote. Really, there are plenty of things happening in a hospital you can’t unsee, right? 

My answer could be to put some kind of restrictions on the size and capability of any AV equipment being installed. As a sort of safety net against any invasion of privacy, to reduce the risks to non-medical AV staff, but still prevents students unearthing corpses at midnight.

Here’s a thought. Anything that won’t fit up your clacker to check for 50-cent coins or scrap metal shouldn’t be allowed.


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