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214

Overdose - Common Drugs and Antidotes

Drug Antidote  
almostadoctor.com - free medical student revision notes
almost 8 years ago
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342

Analgesics

ANALGESICS: THEIR PHARMACOLOGY AND THERAPEUTICS Pain is a common problem, and it is essential that doctors know how to treat it. It is recognised that many psychosocial factors affect people’s perception of pain, in particular of chronic pain. This revision article describes the pain ladder and the pharmacology and uses of the drugs it recommends.   THE W.H.O. PAIN LADDER1  
almostadoctor.com - free medical student revision notes
almost 8 years ago
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63

Different types of Inhaler

There are loads of types of inhalers! You need to be able to tell a patient how to use each type, and what type of drugs can go in each type.   With all inhalers, the amount of drug deposited on the mouth and pharynx is very high. Generally it is about 85% (even with good technique). This can improve to about 75% with different types of inhaler.   How a spacer works  
almostadoctor.com - free medical student revision notes
almost 8 years ago
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3
87

Anti-Histamines

Histamine H1-receptor antagonists These are not used in the management of respiratory conditions. They are mostly effective against mast cell activated inflammatory reactions. In asthma, mast cells are involved in the early stages of the reaction, but their role is not great enough to respond to therapeutic modification. These drugs are useful in patients with very mild atopic asthma, such as in cases of hay fever.  
almostadoctor.com - free medical student revision notes
almost 8 years ago
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Drugs affecting the Respiratory System

Anti-Cholinergics Anti-Histamines Beta-Agonists Cromones  
almostadoctor.com - free medical student revision notes
almost 8 years ago
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1873

Nephron buddy

I made this simple nephron outline to show where different drugs act. I found it useful to print it and write notes on the page.  
Julia Marr
almost 8 years ago
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Fears over statins use are 'misleading' - BBC News

A leading researcher on cholesterol-lowering statin drugs accuses critics of misleading the public about the dangers of taking them.  
BBC News
almost 8 years ago
Foo20151013 2023 1nftkgk?1444774218
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Gin & Tonic Anyone?

It was a Saturday, about tea-time in the quaint village of Athelstaneford, East Lothian. Mrs Alexandria Agutter sat in her cottage, enjoying the delights of the late-summer evening with a glass of gin and tonic. She listlessly sipped from the rather generous pick-me up, no doubt chewing over the happenings of the day. Blast! The taste was much too bitter to her liking. She stood up. And promptly crumpled to the floor in a dizzied heap. It had not been five minutes when a fiery pain gripped her parched throat and in her frenzied turn she watched the bleary room become draped in a gossamery silk. How Dame Agatha would approve. But this is no crime novel, on that fateful day, 24th August 1994, poor Mrs Agutter immortalised herself in the history books of forensic medicine; she was the victim of a revered toxin and a vintage one it was too. She had unwittingly imbibed a G&T laced with a classic poison of antiquity. A clue from the 21st century: do you recall the first Hunger Games film adaption? Those inviting purple-black berries or as Suzanne Collins coined them ‘Nightlock’; a portmanteau of hemlock and Deadly Nightshade. True to the laters’ real life appearance those onscreen fictional fruits played a recurring cameo role. Deadly Nightshade is a perennial shrub of the family Solanaceae and a relative of the humble potato (a member of the Solanus genus). It is a resident of our native woodland and may be found as far afield as Europe, Africa and Western Asia. The 18th century taxonomist, Carl Linnaeus gave the plant an intriguing name in his great Species Plantarum. The genus Atropa is aptly named after one of the three Greek Fates, Atropos. She is portrayed shearing the thread of a mortal’s life so determining the time and manner of its inevitable end. The Italian species name belladona (beautiful woman) refers to the striking mydriatic effect of the plant on the eye. The name pays homage to Pietro Andre Mattioli, a 16th century physician from Sienna, who was allegedly the first to describe the plant’s use among the Venetian glitterati - ladies of fashion favoured the seductive, doe-eyed look. Belladona is poisonous in its entirety. It was from the plant’s roots in 1831, the German apothecary Heinrich F. G. Mein isolated a white, odourless, crystalline powder: it was (surprise, surprise) atropine. Atropine is a chiral molecule. From its natural plant source it exists as a single stereoisomer L-atropine, which also happens to display a chiral potency 50-100 times that of its D-enantiomer. As with many other anaesthetic agents it is administered as a racemic mixture. How strange that atropine now sits among the anaesthetist’s armamentarium, its action as a competitive antimuscarinic to counter vagal stimulation belies its dark history. It was a favourite of Roman housewives seeking retribution against their less than faithful husbands and a staple of the witch’s potion cupboard. Little wonder how belladona became known as the Devil’s plant. Curiouser still it’s also the antidote for other poisons, most notably the organophosphates or nerve gases. On account of its non-selective antagonism, atropine produces a constellation of effects: the inhibition of salivary, lacrimal and sweat glands occurs at low doses; dry mouth and skin are early markers. Pyrexia is a central effect exacerbated by the inability to sweat. Flushing of the face due to skin vessel vasodilatation. Low parasympathetic tone causes a moderate sinus tachycardia. Vision is blurred as the eye becomes dilated, unresponsive to light and accommodation is impaired. Mental disorientation, agitation and ataxia give the impression of drunkedness or a delirium tremens like syndrome. Visual hallucinations, often of butterflies or silk blowing in the wind, are a late feature. It was then that Mr Agutter, seemingly untroubled by the sight of his wife’s problematic situation, proceeded to leave a message with the local practitioner. How fortunate they were to have the vigilant locum check the answering machine and come round to the Agutter’s lodge accompanied by an ambulance crew. The attending paramedic had the presence of mind to pour the remainder of Mrs Agutter’s beverage into a nearby jam jar, while Mr Agutter handed over what he suspected to be the offending ingredient: the bottle of Indian tonic water. As it soon transpired there were seven other casualties in the surrounding countryside of East Lothian – all involving an encounter with tonic water. In fact by some ironic twist of fate, two of the victims were the wife and son of Dr Geoffry Sharwood-Smith, a consultant aneasthetist. Obviously very familiar with the typical toxidrome of anticholinergic agents, he was quick to suspect atropine poisoning. Although for a man of his position with daily access to a sweetshop of drugs, it was not something to draw attention to. Through no small amount of cunning had the poisoner(s) devised the plan. It was elegant; atropine is very bitter. So much so that it can be detected at concentrations of 100 parts per million (0.001%). Those foolish enough to try the berries of belladonna during walks in the woods are often saved by the berry’s sour taste. They are soon spat out. But the quinine in the tonic water was a worthy disguise. The lethal dose for an adult is approximately 90-130mg, however atropine sensitivity is highy variable. In its salt form, atropine sulfate, it is many times more soluble: >100g can be dissolved in 100ml of water. So 1ml may contain roughly tenfold the lethal dose. There ensued a nationwide scare; 50 000 bottles of Safeway branded Indian tonic water were sacrificed. Only six bottles had been contaminated. They had all been purchased, tops unsealed, from the local Safeway in Hunter’s Tryst. Superficially this looked like the handiwork of a psychopath with a certain distaste for the supermarket brand, and amidst the media furore, it did have some verisimilitude: one of the local papers received a letter from 25 year old, Wayne Smith admitting himself as the sole perpetrator. The forensic scientist, Dr Howard Oakley analysed the contents of the bottles. They all contained a non-lethal dose, 11-74mg/litre of atropine except for the Agutter’s, it contained 103mg/litre. The jam jar holding Mrs Agutter’s drink bore even more sinister results, the atropine concentration was 292mg/L. It would appear Mrs Agutter had in some way outstayed her welcome. But she lived. A miscalculation on the part of the person who had added an extra seasoning of atropine to her drink. According to the numbers she would have had to swallow a can’s worth (330ml) to reach the lethal dose. Thankfully she had taken no more than 50mg. The spotlight suddenly fell on Dr Paul Agutter. He was a lecturer of biochemistry at the nearby University of Napier, which housed a research syndicate specialising in toxicology. CCTV footage had revealed his presence at the Safeway in Hunter’s Tryst and there was eye witness evidence of him having placed bottles onto the shelves. Atropine was also detected by the forensic investigators on a cassete case in his car. Within a matter of two weeks he would be arrested for the attempted murder of his wife. Despite the calculated scheme to delay emergency services and to pass the blame onto a non-existent mass poisoner, he had not accomplished the perfect murder. Was there a motive? Allegedly his best laid plans were for the sake of a mistress, a mature student from Napier. He served seven years of a twelve year sentence. Astonishingly, upon his release from Glenochil prison in 2002, he contacted his then former wife proclaiming his innocence and desire to rejoin her in their Scottish home. A proposition she was not very keen on. Dr Agutter was employed by Manchester University as a lecturer of philosophy and medical ethics. He is currently an associate editor of the online journal Theoretical Biology and Medical Modelling. We will never know the true modus operandi as Dr Agutter never confessed to the crime. Perhaps all this story can afford is weak recompense for the brave followers of the Dry January Campaign. Oddly these sort of incidents never appear in their motivational testimonials. Acknowledgements Emsley J. Molecules of Murder. 2008, Cambridge, RSC Publishing, p.46-67. Lee MR. Solanaceae IV: Atropa belladona, deadly nightshade. J R Coll Physicians Edinb. March 2007; 37: 77-84. Illustrator Edward Wong This blog post is a reproduction of an article published in the The Medical Student Newspaper January issue, 2014 http://www.themedicalstudent.co.uk/  
James Wong
almost 8 years ago
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248

Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System

http://www.handwrittentutorials.com - This tutorial explores the Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System, its role in Blood Pressure, the enzymes, involved, and how drugs act upon the system. For more entirely FREE medical tutorials visit http://www.handwrittentutorials.com  
HelpHippo.com
almost 8 years ago
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479

Insulin Pharm Mnemonic (2/5): Rapid, Intermediate, Long-acting: Diabetes blood sugar management

Flashcards for these drugs at http://helphippo.com Insulin analogues for diabetes can be classified based on duration of action. These mnemonics help remember the names. Please SUBSCRIBE - more cool stuff coming as we get more Hippo Helpers! Our pharmacology playlist at: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLIPkjUW-piR2Ww8tUxJnhuJ8z8X-yQSuB  
HelpHippo.com
almost 8 years ago
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Diabetes (3/5): Oral Meds (Dirty Mnemonic) Pharmacology Insulin Resistance - Sulfonylurea, Biguanide

FREE flashcards to quiz these video drugs: http://helphippo.com/flash/flashcards.html. For Juvenile/Type II diabetes (insulin resistance), there are oral medications to control blood sugar. Please SUBSCRIBE - more cool stuff coming as we get more Hippo Helpers! See our pharmacolyg playlist at: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLIPkjUW-piR2Ww8tUxJnhuJ8z8X-yQSuB Visit: http://helphippo.com for archived videos, organized by topic/school year.  
HelpHippo.com
almost 8 years ago
Foo20151013 2023 2hilgx?1444774083
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So you want to be a medical student: READ THIS!

There are so many sources for advice out there for potential medical students. So many books, so many forums, so many careers advice people, and so many confusing and scary myths, that I thought it might be useful to just put up some simple guidelines on what is required to become a medical student and a short book list to get your started. I am now in my 5th year at university and my 4th year of actual medicine. Since getting into Medical School in 2009 I have gone back to my 6th form college in South Wales at least once a year to talk to the students who wanted to become medical or dental students, to offer some advice, answer any queries that I could. This year, I tried to to do the same sort of thing for high achieving pupils at my old comprehensive, because if you don't get the right advice young enough then you won't be able to do everything that is required of you to get into Medical school straight after your A-levels. Unfortunately, due to some new rules I wasn't allowed to. So, since I couldn't give any advice in person I thought that a blog might be the easiest alternative way to give young comprehensive students a guide in the right direction. So here goes... How to get into medical school: You must show that you have the academic capacity to cope with the huge volume of information that will try to teach you and that you have the determination/tenacity to achieve what you need to. To show this you must get good grades: a. >8A*s at GCSE + separate science modules if possible = you have to be able to do science. b. >3A’s at A-Level = Chemistry + Biology + anything else you want, as long as you can get an A. 2. You must have an understanding of what Medicine really involves: a. Work experience with a doctor – local GP, hospital work experience day, family connections, school connections – you should try to get as much as you can but don’t worry if you can’t because you can make up for it in other areas. b. Work experience with any health care professional – ask to see what a nurse/ physio/ health care assistant/ phlebotomist/ ward secretary does. Any exposure to the clinical environment will give you an insight into what happens and gives you something to talk about during personal statements and interviews. c. Caring experience – apply to help out in local care homes, in disabled people’s homes, at charities, look after younger pupils at school. All these sorts of things help to show that you are dedicated, motivated and that you want to help people. 3. Be a fully rounded human being: a. Medical schools do not want robots! They want students who are smart but who are also able to engage with the common man. So hobbies and interests are a good way of showing that you are more than just a learner. b. Playing on sports teams allows you to write about how you have developed as a person and helps you develop essential characteristics like team work, fair play, learning to follow commands, learning to think for yourself, hand-eye co-ordination etc. etc. All valuable for a career in medicine. c. Playing an instrument again shows an ability to learn and the will power to sit and perfect a skill. It also provides you with useful skills that you can use to be sociable and make friends, such as joining student choirs, orchestras and bands or just playing some tunes at a party. d. Do fun things! Medicine is hard work so you need to be able to do something that will help you relax and allow you to blow off some stress. All work and no play, makes a burnt out wreck! 4. Have a basic knowledge of: a. The news, especially the health news – Daily Telegraph health section on a Monday, BBC news etc. b. The career of a doctor – how does it work? How many years of training? What roles would you do? What exams do you need to pass? How many years at medical school? c. The GMC – know about the “Tomorrow’s Doctor” Document – search google. d. The BMA e. The Department of Health and NHS structure – know the basics! GP commissioning bodies, strategic health authorities. f. What the Medical School you are applying to specialises in, does it do lots of cancer research? Does it do dissection? Does it pride itself on the number of GPs it produces? Does it require extra entry exams or what is the interview process? These 4 points are very basic and are just a very rough guide to consider for anyone applying to become a medical student. There are many more things you can do and loads of useful little tips that you will pick up along the way. If anyone has any great tips they would like to share then please do leave them as a comment below! My final thought for this blog is; READ, READ and READ some more. I am sure that the reason I got into medical school was because I had read so many inspiring and thought provoking books, I had something to say in interviews and I had already had ideas planted in my head by the books that I could then bring up for discussion with the interview panel when asked about ethical dilemmas or where medicine is going. Plus reading books about medicine can be so inspiring that they really can push your life in a whole new direction or just give you something to chat about with friends and family. Everyone loves to chat people – how they work, why they are ill, what shapes peoples' personalities etc and these are all a part of medicine that you can read into! Book Recommendations Must reads: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Trust-Me-Im-Junior-Doctor/dp/0340962054/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374240729&sr=1-1&keywords=trust+me+i%27m+a+junior+doctor http://www.amazon.co.uk/Rise-Fall-Modern-Medicine/dp/0349123756/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374240763&sr=1-1&keywords=the+rise+and+fall+of+modern+medicine http://www.amazon.co.uk/Selfish-Gene-30th-Anniversary/dp/0199291152/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374240793&sr=1-1&keywords=the+selfish+gene http://student.bmj.com/student/student-bmj.html http://www.newscientist.com/subs/offer?pg=bdlecpyhvyhuk1306&prom=1234&gclid=CLT0tZ3Wu7gCFfLHtAodWwUAyA http://www.amazon.co.uk/Man-Who-Mistook-His-Wife/dp/B005M1NBYY/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374240909&sr=1-3&keywords=the+man+who+mistook+his+wife+for+a+hat http://www.amazon.co.uk/Better-Surgeons-Performance-Atul-Gawande/dp/1861976577/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374240987&sr=1-1&keywords=better+atul+gawande http://www.amazon.co.uk/House-Black-Swan-Samuel-Shem/dp/0552991228/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374241124&sr=1-1&keywords=the+house+of+god+samuel+shem http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bad-Science-Ben-Goldacre/dp/000728487X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374241298&sr=1-1&keywords=bad+science+ben+goldacre Thought provokers: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Complications-Surgeons-Notes-Imperfect-Science/dp/1846681324/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374241026&sr=1-1&keywords=atul+gawande+complications http://www.amazon.co.uk/Checklist-Manifesto-How-Things-Right/dp/1846683149/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374241049&sr=1-1&keywords=atul+gawande+checklist http://www.amazon.co.uk/Brave-New-World-Aldous-Huxley/dp/0099518473/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374241067&sr=1-1&keywords=aldous+huxley http://www.amazon.co.uk/Island-Aldous-Huxley/dp/0099477777/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374241093&sr=1-1&keywords=aldous+huxley+island http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mount-Misery-Samuel-Shem/dp/055277622X/ref=pd_sim_b_4 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Psychopath-Test-Jon-Ronson/dp/0330492276/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374241180&sr=1-1&keywords=the+psychopath+test http://www.amazon.co.uk/Drugs-Without-Minimising-Harms-Illegal/dp/1906860165/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374241197&sr=1-1&keywords=drugs+without+the+hot+air http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Win-Friends-Influence-People/dp/0091906814/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374241222&sr=1-1&keywords=how+to+win+friends+and+influence+people http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bad-Pharma-companies-mislead-patients/dp/0007350740/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y Final Final Thought: Just go into your local book shop or library and go to the pop-science section and read the first thing that takes your interest! It will almost always give you something to talk about.  
jacob matthews
over 8 years ago
Foo20151013 2023 1fflsju?1444774064
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2875

My Grandfather's Complimentary Medicine - The secret to a healthy old age?

Complimentary medicine (CAM) is controversial, especially when it is offered by the NHS! You only have to read the recent health section of the Telegraph to see Max Pemberton and James LeFanu exchanging strong opinions. Most of the ‘therapies’ available on the market have little to no evidence base to support their use and yet, I believe that it has an important role to play in modern medicine. I believe that CAM is useful not because of any voodoo magic water or because the soul of a tiger lives on in the dust of one of its claws but because modern medicine hasn’t tested EVERYTHING yet and because EVERY DOCTOR should be allowed to use a sugar pill or magic water to ease the anguish of the worried well every now and again. The placebo effect is powerful and could be used to help a lot of patients as well as save the NHS a lot of money. I visited my grandfather for a cup of coffee today. As old people tend to do we discussed his life, his life lessons and his health . My grandfather is 80-something years old and worked as a collier underground for about 25 years before rising up through the ranks of management. In his entire life he has been to hospital twice: Once to have his tonsils removed and once to have a TKR – total knee replacement. My granddad maintains that the secret of his good health is good food, plenty of exercise, keeping his mind active and 1 dried Ivy berry every month! He takes the dried ivy berries because a gypsie once told his father that doing so would prevent infection of open wounds; common injuries in those working under ground. It is my granddad’s firm belief that the ivy berries have kept him healthy over the past 60 years, despite significant drinking and a 40 year pack history! My grandfather is the only person I know who takes this quite bizarre and potentially dangerous CAM, but he has done so for over half a century now and has suffered no adverse effects (that we can tell anyway)! This has led me to think about the origin of medicine and the evolution of modern medicine from ancient treatments: Long ago medicine meant ‘take this berry and see what happens’. Today, medicine means ‘take this drug (or several drugs) and see what happens, except we’ll write it down if it all goes wrong’. Just as evidence for modern therapies have been established, is there any known evidence for the ivy berry and what else is it used for? My grandfather gave me a second piece of practical advice this afternoon, in relation to the treatment of open wounds: To stop bleeding cover the wound in a bundle of spiders web. You can collect webs by wrapping them up with a stick, then slide the bundle of webs off the stick onto the wound and hold it in place. If the wound is quite deep then cover the wound in ground white pepper. I have no idea whether these two tips actually work but they reminded me of ‘QuickClot’ (http://www.z-medica.com/healthcare/About-Us/QuikClot-Product-History.aspx) a powder that the British Army currently issues to all its frontline troops for the treatment of wounds. The powder is poured into the wound and it forms a synthetic clot reducing blood loss. This technology has been a life-saver in Afghanistan but is relatively expensive. Supposing that crushed white pepper has similar properties, wouldn’t that be cheaper? While I appreciate that the two are unlikely to have the same level of efficacy, I am merely suggesting that we do not necessarily dismiss old layman’s practices without a little investigation. I intend to go and do a few searches on pubmed and google but just thought I’d put this in the public domain and see if anyone has any corroborating stories. If your grandparents have any rather strange but potentially useful health tips I’d be interested in hearing them. You never know they may just be the treatments of the future!  
jacob matthews
over 8 years ago
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Criticizing the NHS - Can students do this productively?

In this month’s SBMJ (May 2013) a GP called Dr Michael Ingram has written a very good article highlighting some of the problems with the modern NHS’s administrative systems, especially relating to the huge amount of GP time wasted on following up after administrative errors and failings. I personally think that it is important for people working within the NHS to write articles like this because without them then many of us would be unaware of these problems or would feel less confident in voicing our own similar thoughts. The NHS is a fantastic idea and does provide an excellent service compared to many other health care systems around the world, but there is always room for improvement – especially on the administrative side! The issues raised by Dr Ingram were: Histology specimens being analysed but reports not being sent to the GP on time or with the correct information. Histology reports not being discussed with patient’s directly when they try and contact the hospital to find out the results and instead being referred to their GP, who experiences the problem stated above. GP’s are being left to deal with patient’s problems that have nothing to do with the GP and their job and have everything to do with an inefficient NHS bureaucracy. These problems and complaints often taking up to a third of a GP’s working day and thereby reducing the time they can spend actually treating patients. Having to arrange new outpatient appointments for patients when their appointment letters went missing or when appointments were never made etc. Even getting outpatient appointments in the first place and how these are often delayed well after the recommended 6 week wait. Patients who attend outpatient appointments often have to consult their GP to get a prescription that the hospital consultant has recommended, so that the GP bares the cost and not the hospital. My only issue with this article is that Dr Ingram highlights a number of problems with the NHS systems but then does not offer a single solution/idea on how these systems could be improved. When medical students are taught to write articles for publication it is drummed into us that we should always finish the discussion section with a conclusion and recommendations for further work/ implications for practice. I was just thinking that if doctors, medical students, nurses and NHS staff want to complain about the NHS’s failings then at least suggest some ways of improving these problems at the same time. This then turns what is essentially a complaint/rant into helpful, potentially productive criticism. If you (the staff) have noticed that these problems exist then you have also probably given some thought to why the problem exists, so why not just say/write how you think the issue could be resolved? If your grievances and solutions are documented and available then someone in the NHS administration might take your idea up and actually put it into practice, potentially reducing the problem (a disgustingly idealist thought I know). A number of times I have been told during medical school lectures and at key note speeches at conferences that medical students are a valuable resource to the NHS administration because we visit different hospitals, we wander around the whole hospital, we get exposed to the good and bad practice and we do not have any particular loyalty to any one department and can therefore objective observations. So, I was thinking it might be interesting to ask as many medical students as possible for their thoughts on how to improve the systems within the NHS. So I implore any of you reading this blog: write your own blog about short comings that you have noticed, make a recommendation for how to improve it and then maybe leave a link in the comments below this blog. If we start taking more of an interest in the NHS around us and start documenting where improvements could be made then maybe we could together work to create a more efficient and effective NHS. So I briefly just sat down and had a think earlier today about a few potential solutions for the problems highlighted in Dr Ingram’s article. A community pathology team that handles all of the GP’s pathology specimens and referrals. A “patient pathway co-ordinator” could be employed as additional administrative staff by GP surgeries to chase up all of the appointments and missing information that is currently using up a lot of the GP’s time and thereby freeing them to see more patients. I am sure this role is already carried out by admin staff in GP practices but perhaps in an ad hoc way, rather than that being their entire job. Do the majority of GP practices get access to the hospitals computer systems? Surely, if GPs had access to the hospital systems this would mean a greater efficiency for booking outpatient appointments and for allowing GPs to follow up test results etc. In the few outpatient departments I have come across outpatient appointments are often made by the administration team and then sent by letter to the patients, with the patient not being given a choice of when is good for them. Would it not be more efficient for the administrative staff to send the patients a number of appointment options for the patient to select one appropriate for them? Eliyahu M. Goldratt was a business consultant who revolutionized manufacturing efficiency a few years ago. He wrote a number of books on his theories that are very interesting and easy to read because he tries to explain most of his points using a narrative – “The Goal” and “Critical Chain” being just tow. His business theories focussed on finding the bottle neck in an industrial process, because if that is the rate limiting step in the manufacturing process then it is the most essential part for improving efficiency of the whole process. Currently, most GPs refer patients to outpatient appointments at hospitals and this can often take weeks or months. The outpatient appointments are a bottle neck in the process of getting patients the care they require. Therefore, focussing attention on how outpatient appointments are co-ordinated and run would improve the efficiency in the “patient pathway” as a whole. a. Run more outpatient clinics. b. Pay consultants overtime to do more clinics, potentially in the evenings or at weekends. While a lot may not want to do this, a few may volunteer and help to reduce the back log on the waiting lists. c. Have more patients seen by nurse specialists so that more time is freed up for the consultants to see the more urgent or serious patients. d. An obvious, yet expensive solution, hire more consultants to help with the ever increasing workload. e. Change the outpatient system so that it becomes more of an assembly line system with one doctor and a team of nurses handling the “new patient” appointments and another team handling the “old patient” follow up appointments rather than having them all mixed together at the same time. I am sure that there are many criticisms of the points I have written above and I would be interested to hear them. I would also love to hear any other solutions for the problems mentioned above. Final thought for today … Why shouldn’t medical students make criticisms of inefficiencies and point them out to the relevant administrator? If anyone else is interested in how the NHS as a whole is run then there is a new organisation called the Faculty of Medical Leadership and Management that is keen to recruit interested student members (www.fmlm.ac.uk).  
jacob matthews
over 8 years ago