Killing Your Characters Correctly

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Killing Your Characters Correctly nailing the medical details in your fiction Kim Foster, MD

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1. KillingYourCharactersCorrectlynailing the medical detailsin your fictionKim Foster, MD 2. CPR &Defibrillation 3. CPR is not magic dont give up so soon!its not pretty (rib cracking)do NOT defibrillate a flatline! 4. Comas 5. Getting your character into a coma a severe head injury seizure infection involving the brain brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen for toolong (eg. cardiac arrest) an overdose of medicine or other drugs. a stroke chemical imbalances (in the body from otherillnesses eg. low blood sugar, organ failure) 6. Getting your character out of a comaMuch trickier!(especially if you want him/her unscathed)Keep in mind these factors: the cause (drug overdose vs. hypoxia or stroke) the depth (give a few signs of being higher onthe Glasgow coma scale) the duration (the longer he remains in coma, theworse his chances) 7. Knife WoundsThe most lethal wounds that canbe made with a knife? between the cervical vertebrae(sever spinal cord) across the neckslice throughthe carotid arteries and thetrachea into the heart lungs/chestmaybe abdomenmaybe 8. Knife WoundsKnife injuries that look bad but may be survivable? limbs shoulder chest abdomenif you miss the aorta or almost anywhereanything is possible! 9. Bullet WoundsIssues: Do you have toget the bulletout? Fatal shots Survivable shots 10. Poison Cyanide Strychnine Arsenic Ricin Warfarin & Heparin Morphine & Opiates Potassium Chloride Botulinum Toxin 11. Heart Attacks & Heart DiseaseSymptoms of a heart attack: chest pressure/heaviness/pain pain that radiates to left arm or jaw shortness of breath lightheadedness nausea diaphoresis (sweaty) palpitationsRisk factors: high blood pressure high cholesterol smoking diabetes family history obesity sedentary 12. Deadly InfectionsInfection Fatality rate(if untreated)Treatment available?Rabies 100% yes (post-exposurevaccination)Ebola 83-90% noSmallpox 95% noAnthrax 93% yes (antibiotics)Bubonic Plague 60% yes (antibiotics)Yellow Fever 20-50% no 13. Anaphylaxis & AllergiesWhat kinds of things tendto cause fatal allergicreactions?-foods (nuts, shellfish,eggs)-iodine-insect stings (yellowjacket wasps, honeybees)-antibiotics-local anaestheticWhat does an allergicreaction look like?-rash/hives-difficulty breathing,swallowing, speaking-tongue, lip, eyeswelling-lightheadedness-passing out 14. ChildbirthIssues 15. Common errors &annoyances: the panic that ensueswhen a womans waterbreaks speed labor (especially forfirst labor) clean & pretty labor amazing recovery afterOpportunities: delivery in inconvenientplaces: elevators, cars, thesidewalk outside thehospital, etc. bleeding, infection home births, water births breech twins almost any disaster you canthink of 16. Hospital ScenesWhos there, and what are they doing? 17. Where to get more help?Online resources (see handout)LibraryTalk to an expert physician other health care professional university prof science writer/copyeditor/fact checker me: Kim Fosteremail: [email protected]: 18. Questions?