Medical inventor helps alleviate suffering
By Marlena Chavira-Medford
Steve Bierman, MD, moved to Del Mar in 1976, during his residency in family medicine at UCSD and, in 1979, he began an 18-year career as a full-time emergency physician at Scripps Hospital. That experience led him in two directions that have since defined his professional undertakings: solving issues in hospitals by inventing safer medical devices, and the use of medical hypnosis to alleviate pain and suffering.
Bierman, who invented StatLock® catheter securement devices, founded Venetec International in 1996, which set a worldwide safety standard for management of intravascular and urinary catheters. The company sold to CR BARD in 2006, but its products are still preventing device-related infections and other complications in most of the nation’s hospitals today. He now hopes to set a new standard in IV catheter care with his new company, Access Scientific, which makes The WAND. The WAND, which Bierman co-invented, will allow patients to have just one needle-stick while they are hospitalized up to 30 days. Already, patients who would have had 20 to 30 needle-sticks for blood draws and infusions, are leaving research hospitals having had only a single stick — and with better outcomes. “It’s not direct patient care, but it’s immensely gratifying, ” Bierman said of his work.
Beirman’s other area of study is medical hypnosis, which he said has been “even more gratifying.” ‘Dr. Steve’ — as his patients commonly call him — started using hypnosis in the ER to alleviate pain and anxiety. He became only the 200th physician in the nation to be certified by The American Board of Medical Hypnosis, which is recognized by the American Medical Association. He soon learned, however, that much more could be accomplished by harnessing a patient’s “inner healer.” He published cases in peer-reviewed medical journals and has taught both graduate and post-graduate medical students for more than 15 years. During those years, Bierman said he has seen, sometimes to his own surprise, cases of cancer, autoimmunity, psychiatric and sexual disturbance, cardiac arrhythmias, and many more, resolved through hypnosis, often in concert with traditional and non-traditional treatments. He maintains a small office practice in Del Mar and sees selected patients.
Throughout this time, Bierman has proudly fathered daughters Clea, 22, and Raquel, 21, both of whom live in L.A. and are pursuing careers as a writer and singer-songwriter, respectively. He has been married to his second wife, Dianne, for two years and lives, surfs, and luxuriates on 8th Street.
1. What brought you to this neighborhood?
The instantaneous recognition of “home.” I drove through Del Mar when I was 17 and knew immediately that I would live there. It was love at first sight.
2. What makes this town special to you?
Its elemental beauty; all things West; the sweet sea air and the resplendent light.
3. If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract, or improve in the area.
A high-class blues club. We really need that and I am often trying to get my friend Bill Davidson — who also knows nothing about running a night club — to start one with me.
4. Who or what inspires you
Wisdom: as distinguished from knowledge and eloquence.
5. If you hosted a dinner party for 8, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?
Living guests would include: my loved ones — my wife, daughters, sister and brother in law, and Mark and Grace Kalina. Dead guests would include: Assuming we could all understand each other, I’d love to sit with Dr. Milton Erickson, Mr. Tolstoy, Darwin, Bertrand Russell, Mr. Einstein and a few of the thinkers who went further into esoterica. Not sure I’d serve dinner, perhaps just drinks to loosen them up a bit…a drunken Mr. Darwin riffing on us being genetically 98 percent chimpanzee…
6. Tell us about what you are currently reading.
I’m often reading Kay Ryan, our poet laureate. She is both profound and delicious. I’m also reading “Brida,” by Paulo Coelho: his wisdom is daunting. It really is true that the smaller truths are told in non-fiction, while the great truths are either told in fiction or not spoken at all. Coelho proves it again and again.
7. What is your most prized possession?
Nothing really. I’m mentally prepared to lose all my stuff. Meanwhile, I love my house, cherish videos and pictures of my daughters growing up, and adore our French bulldog, Quincy.
8. What do you do for fun?
Spend time with my wife, Dianne. I also like to surf, bike, workout, and read.
9. Please describe your greatest accomplishment.
Hopefully it is yet to come. I’d like to arrive at a more comprehensive and practicable understanding and method of healing and sustaining health for me, my patients and my loved ones. Results in my office practice suggest I’m on the right track; but the mystery is immense (as is our knowledge), and I’d like to penetrate it further if I can.
10. What is your motto or philosophy of life?
Having emerged from a Jewish childhood, I find this one useful: Worry is a misuse of the imagination. But I also draw great solace from: F*#k me if I can’t take a joke. And then, there’s always: Arrogance is the end of learning.
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