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Friday, February 11, 2011

Welcome Jordyn Redwood and The Medical Edge

Please interact with our guest authors by answering the question they provide.


JORDYN REDWOOD is a nurse by day and suspense novelist by night. Jordyn has specialized in critical care and emergency nursing for the last eighteen years. She blogs at Redwood’s Medical Edge which helps historical and contemporary authors write medically accurate fiction.


I once heard a talk given by Ted Dekker several years ago who described a fiction novel as a “story bubble”. Our job as authors is to maintain that world for the reader and not do anything in the writing that will pull them out of that happy little snow globe of fun. For me as a nurse, one thing that will pull me out of a story is inaccuracy when it comes to medical facts. When I see these, I begin to question what other details the author may have been loose with. Now, I’m out of the story bubble and questioning whether I should put the book down.

Here are the most common inaccuracies I see regarding medical fact in fiction.

  1. Referring to an IV catheter as a needle: When an IV is placed, a needle is used to “cannulate” or place the catheter inside the vein. What is actually left inside the vein is a small plastic tube and not a needle.
  2. That a person on a breathing machine can talk or moan: The process of speaking happens when we pass air through our vocal cords. When a person is on a breathing machine, a large tube called an endotracheal tube is passed through their vocal cords so air can be delivered directly to the lungs. Because this tube is in place, air cannot pass through the cords; therefore the person cannot speak or moan. There are some tracheotomy tubes that will allow a person to speak through a special valve but these are typically employed during the rehab process and the person must have a tracheotomy site where the breathing tube is placed in the front of the neck.
  3. Anatomy Issues: Here is a sentence I read in a published novel. I’ve changed the name of the main character. “John Doe looked at the scar that ran along his right rib line, where a splenectomy incision might be.” Did you catch the problem? Your spleen is on the left side. Your liver actually sits in your lower right rib cage. Anatomy issues are the easiest to research at Google. Just type in, “what side is the spleen on” and you’ll be able to get an answer in a few seconds.

I hope these are helpful. I go into further detail about these issues on my blog. You can find it at

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Thank you, Jordyn, for sharing with us today.

Guest Question: What medical inaccuracies have you caught in a novel?


Melanie Dickerson said...

Hi, Jordyn and Amber!
I love putting medical problems in my novels. I try my best to be as accurate as possible. So far I don't think anyone has complained about any inaccuracies! Well, I don't know this for certain, since I stopped reading my reviews about a month ago when my publisher did a free promotion, making my book a free download for about a week. But that's another story!!! LOL

I have a question. Would it be feasible for a person to get a fever after an arrow wound? Does a fever always indicate an infection? Also, what is the normal treatment for a deep puncture wound? (Not that I'll be using modern medicine. My story takes place in the early 1400's.)

Thanks! And blessings on your writing!

Jordyn Redwood said...


Thanks so much for your comment. Fever after an arrow wound would be very reasonable and would likely indicate infection in this case. The fever would likely start a minimum of 24 hours post injury. It's probably not going to start that day. It takes time for your immune system to rev up to fight off the germs.

Considering your era:1400... I'm sure the arrow was quite dirty and when it punctures into the body, the wound is "seeded" with whatever is on the arrow and also what was on his skin as well. I'm sure your character is probably not the cleanest type either. So germs from the skin will get into the wound as well.

Current treatment for a simple puncture wound (this would not include an arrow) is irrigation with copious amounts of sterile saline. Tetanus needs to be updated if the patient hasn't had one in the last five years. Otherwise we'll let you get a booster every ten years. Antibiotics may be indicated depending on the physician and what caused the injury. Deep puncture wounds may go to the OR.

In the 1400's.. my guess was they would remove the arrow and see how they did. I think the advent of purging/blistering/leeching was later but would have to check to verify.

Fever doesn't always indicate infection but probably most of the time... yes.

Hope this helps and thanks for the question.


Carla Gade said...

Fascinating post!

Jordyn Redwood said...


Thanks so much for your comment! Glad you found the information useful.


Melanie Dickerson said...

Thanks so much for that information! I bet the "healers" of the day would want to cauterize the wound. Ick! I'm not looking forward to writing that scene. :-) I found a wonderful website at one time that gave information on how different medical conditions would have been treated in different time periods, but I've been unable to find it again. I like to double check that I'm being historically accurate, as well as accurate medically. If that makes sense.

Jordyn Redwood said...


Absolutely, both are equally important.

Let me know if you ever find that website again. I'd be interested in taking a look. You can e-mail me at

And thanks to everyone for stopping by and reading this post. I do host medical questions related to writing on my blog. You can e-mail me at the above address. Some writers have used it as a way to cross promote their work. You don't have to be published.

It's been an honor to guest blog. Don't forget, at Redwood's Medical Edge, I'm hosting a comment contest this month. Whoever leaves the most comments wins a prize.

Also, for my subscriber/followers (where I can see your photo on the sidebar) I do surprise drawings. I hope you'll check it out.