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Foo20151013 2023 1njk26?1444774138
3
131

Doctor or a scientist?

"One special advantage of the skeptical attitude of mind is that a man is never vexed to find that after all he has been in the wrong" Sir William Osler Well, it's almost Christmas. I know it's Christmas because the animal skeleton situated in the reception of my University's Anatomy School has finally been re-united with his (or her?) Christmas hat, has baubles for eyes and tinsel on its ribcage. This doesn't help with my trying to identify it (oh the irony if it is indeed a reindeer). This term has probably been one of the toughest academic terms I've had, but then when you intercalate that is sort of what you choose to let yourself in for. I used to think that regular readings were a chore in the pre-clinical years. I had ample amounts of ethics, sociology and epidemiology readings to do but this is nothing compared to the world of scientific papers. The first paper I had to read this term related to Glycosaminoglycan (GAG) integrity in articular cartilage and its possible role in the pathogenesis of Osteoarthritis. Well, I know that now. When I first started reading it felt very much like a game of boggle and highly reminiscent of high school spanish lessons where I just sat and nodded my head. This wasn't the end. Every seminar has come with its own prescribed reading list. The typical dose is around 4-5 papers. This got me thinking. We don't really spend all that much time understanding how to read scientific papers nor do we really explore our roles as 'scientists' as well as future clinicians. Training programmes inevitably seem to create false divides between the 'clinicans' and the 'academics' and sometimes this has negative consequences - one simply criticises the other: Doctors don't know enough about science, academics are out of touch with the real world etc... Doctors as scientists... The origins of medicine itself lie with some of the greatest scientists of all time - Herophilus, Galen, Da Vinci, William Harvey (the list is endless). As well as being physicians, all of these people were also respected scientists who regularly made contributions to our understanding of the body's mechanics. Albeit, the concept of ethics was somewhat thrown to the wind (Herophilus, though dead for thousands of years, is regularly accused of performing vivisections on prisoners in his discovery of the duodenum). Original sketches by William Harvey which proved a continuous circuit of blood being supplied and leaving the upper limb. He used his observations to explain the circulatory system as we know it today What was unique about these people? The ability to challenge what they saw. They made observations, tested them against their own knowledge and asked more questions - they wanted to know more. As well as being doctors, we have the unique opportunity to make observations and question what we see. What's causing x to turn into y? What trends do we see in patients presenting with x? The most simple question can lead to the biggest shift in understanding. It only took Semmelweiss to ask why women were dying in a maternity ward to give rise to our concept of modern infection control. Bad Science... Anyone who has read the ranting tweets, ranting books and ranting YouTube TED videos of academic/GP Ben Goldacre will be familiar with this somewhat over used term. Pseudoscience (coined by the late great Karl Popper) is a much more sensible and meaningful term. Science is about gathering evidence which supports your hypothesis. Pseudoscience is a field which makes claims that cannot be tested by a study. In truth, there's lots and lots of relatively useless information in print. It's fine knowing about biomarker/receptor/cytokine/antibody/gene/transcription factor (insert meaningless acronym here) but how is it relevant and how does it fit into the bigger picture? Science has become reductionist. We're at the gene level and new reducing levels of study (pharmacogenetics) break this down even further and sometimes, this is at an expense of providing anything useful to your clinicial toolbox. Increasing job competition and post-graduate 'scoring' systems has also meant there's lots of rushed research in order to get publications and citations. This runs the danger of further undermining the doctors role as a true contributor to science. Most of it is wrong... I read an article recently that told me at least 50% of what I learn in medical school will be proven wrong in my lifetime. That might seem disheartening since I may have pointlessly consumed ample coffee to revise erroneous material. However, it's also exciting. What if you prove it wrong? What if you contributed to changing our understanding? As a doctor, there's no reason why you can't. If we're going to practice evidence-based medicine then we need to understand that evidence and doing this requires us to wear our scientist hat. It would be nice to see a whole generation of doctors not just willing to accept our understanding but to challenge that which is tentative. That's what science is all about. Here's hoping you don't find any meta-analyses in your stockings. Merry Christmas.  
Lucas Brammar
over 5 years ago
Foo20151013 2023 1nh0xw?1444774170
9
300

A Comedy of Errors

Great people make mistakes. Unfortunately, medicine is a subject where mistakes are not tolerated. Doctors are supposed to be infallible; or, at least, that is the present dogma. Medical students regularly fall victim to expecting too much of themselves, but this is perhaps not a bad trait when enlisting as a doctor. If it weren’t for mistakes in our understanding, then we wouldn’t progress. Studying a BSc in Anatomy has exposed me to the real world of science – where the negative is just as important as the positive. What isn’t there is just as important as what is. If you look into the history of Anatomy, it truly is a comedy of errors. So, here are three top mistakes by three incredibly influential figures who still managed to be remembered for the right reasons. 3. A Fiery Stare Culprit: Alcmaeon of Croton Go back far enough and you’ll bump into someone called Alcmaeon. Around the 5th century, he was one of the first dissectors – but not an anatomist. Alcmaeon was concerned with human intellect and was desperately searching for the seat of the soul. He made a number of major errors - quite understandable for his time! Alcmaeon insisted that sleep occurs when the blood vessels filled and we wake when they empty. Perhaps the most outrageous today is the fact that he insisted the eyes contained water both fire and water… Don’t be quick to mock. Alcmaeon identified the optic tract, the brain as the seat of the mind (along with Herophilus) and the Eustachian tubes. 2. Heart to Heart Culprit: Claudius Galen Legend has it that Galen’s father had a dream in which an angel/deity visited him and told him that his son would be a great physician. That would have to make for a pretty impressive opening line in a personal statement by today’s standards. Galen was highly influential on modern day medicine and his treatise of Anatomy and healing lasted for over a thousand years. Many of Galen’s mistakes were due to his dissections of animals rather than humans. Unfortunately, dissection was banned in Galen’s day and where his job as physician to the gladiators provided some nice exposed viscera to study, it did not allow him to develop a solid foundation. Galen’s biggest mistake lay in the circulation. He was convinced that blood flowed in a back and forth, ebb-like motion between the chambers of the heart and that it was burnt by muscle for fuel. Many years later, great physician William Harvey proposed our modern understanding of circulation. 1. The Da Vinci Code Culprit: Leonardo Da Vinci If you had chance to see the Royal Collection’s latest exhibition then you were in for a treat. It showcased the somewhat overlooked anatomical sketches of Leonardo Da Vinci. A man renowned for his intelligence and creativity, Da Vinci also turns out to be a pretty impressive anatomist. In his sketches he produces some of the most advanced 3D representations of the human skeleton, muscles and various organs. One theory of his is, however, perplexing. In his sketches is a diagram of the spinal cord……linked to penis. That’s right, Da Vinci was convinced the two were connected (no sexist comments please) and that semen production occurred inside the brain and spinal cord, being stored and released at will. He can be forgiven for the fact that he remarkably corrected himself some years later. His contributions to human physiology are astounding for their time including identification of a ‘hierarchal’ nervous system, the concept of equal ‘inheritence’ and identification of the retina as a ‘light sensing organ’. The list of errors is endless. However, they’re not really errors. They’re signposts that people were thinking. All great people fail, otherwise they wouldn’t be great.  
Lucas Brammar
over 5 years ago
Foo20151013 2023 quzkes?1444774189
5
612

Hello World, I've been to London's Air Ambulance for a bit...

Hi. Or rather, #HelloMyNameIs Adam. I like trauma, emergency medicine, PHEC, #FOAMed, twitter and scuba diving (but only when there's sunshine involved afterwards). I also like teaching and education, and I'm one of the final year medical students here in Edinburgh. But for 2 months I wasn't. I was one of the London's Air Ambulance elective students down in Whitechapel at the Royal London Hospital. So as an opening gambit, and by some way of an introduction I thought you might want to hear about that. After all, they're much more interesting than I am, and I can't host you for your elective… I managed to swindle my way into a 2 month elective with LAA just before Christmas 2014 and in a word it was pretty great. For those of you thinking of doing it, just go, now, and apply. Then you can come back and read the rest of my ramblings. For the rest of you, here’s what happened. LAA electives are a bit different, unsurprisingly. To cover its 1800-odd missions a year, LAA runs both their trauma service in two flavours: a helicopter (G-EHMS, aka “Mike Sierra” or MEDIC 1) by day and a car (DA “Delta Alpha” 77 or MEDIC 1 NIGHT) by night, (because apparently, whilst sporting and enjoyable for the pilots, landing in metropolitan areas in the dark is too risky, especially with comparatively empty roads). Alongside the trauma service, there is also a Physician Response Unit (PRU) which responds locally to cardiac arrests to provide quality CPR (along with some advanced post-arrest care like cooling and delivery to a cath lab), but for the most part does jobs for the London Ambulance Service which have been deemed probably not to require hospital, but might benefit from a doctor. There’s a 5 year waiting list for day-time flying shifts, and not much less for the rest of their work, so you’re not going to spend 4, 6 or 8 weeks in a helicopter flying round London taking names and saving lives, in fact the helicopter schedule is totally off-limits to students. Instead you’ll start off scheduled for a couple of night shifts each month and there will be opportunities to see a lot of London Ambulance Service, from the “control” at the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), to time spent with road crews, and, off the back of some of the folk you’ll meet, a route in to observing with some more specialist units too. (More on that in the future if I run out of other ideas!) As well as the “live” experience there are 5 very experienced senior registrars from a variety of backgrounds as well as the 4 full-time LAA consultants, and opportunities to learn both practical skills and theoretical knowledge from them abound. As it turned out, the PRU was probably my favourite part of the elective. You can read about all the trauma that LAA goes to elsewhere, its splashed all over their shiny new website for a start, and many things have been written about their work (I might even write some more later on!) and there’s even a (not great) telly program on Channel 5. But the PRU is just really cool. I hate that word but it is. It fits into a strange, but now expanding niche in emergency care. That is, it serves to lighten the load both on the ambulance service and on the Emergency Departments of London by going out to people who have called 999 and asked for an ambulance but might in fact be better managed in the community. The work is incredibly varied, you can see older folk with a nasty UTI who couldn’t get to see their GP, you can go to a school and glue the head of a kid who’s taken a nasty fall in the playground, or you can end up in some sheltered housing talking to a lady who’s having the roughest of times and trying to deal with borderline personality disorder to boot. The PRU is crewed about half the time by a small group of GPs and EM docs who have been doing it for a while, usually about once a week or so, and quite often in their own time (in between the rota is made up with the LAA docs who usually work the trauma service). They’re kept firmly in line by an experienced LAS paramedic who is seconded over to run this unit, 9-5, 5 days a week, usually for about a year. As a team, they have perfected their ability to assess a patient using the minimal resources available to them, and as we are so often reminded, quite rightly, it turns out to be all in the history. Some interventions are available to them that aren’t available to paramedics, prescribing antibiotics or other drugs to leave with the patient, bypassing the ED for referral straight to specialists, and doing urine dipsticks being the most used among them; but mostly it is the team’s experience and advanced clinical judgement which makes this unit tick, and empowers them to safely leave so many of their patients at home, with care delivered, advice given, and a plan arranged should anything deteriorate. This wasn’t my first rodeo, I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with the Scottish Ambulance Service up here in Edinburgh, and have spent more than my fair share of time in our Emergency Department, but it was still impressive to see how these guys dealt with the delicate balance of who to leave at home and who might need a further investigation in hospital. Firstly, this is something that anyone who aspires to work in an emergency department should aspire to be comfortable to do. There are going to be a huge number of people who don’t need to be admitted coming through it every day, wherever it is. The faster and more confidently you can identify their problems, treat them, and crucially, reassure them with appropriate advice, good follow up and a safety net, the better experience they will have. Of course much of this comes with experience and training, but tagging along with teams like this is a fine way to start getting some. Secondly, and this is a bit of a stab in the dark, but I think this idea really might take off. The media is almost swamped with stories of A&E departments being overwhelmed, ambulance services are operating at or near capacity, and we’re struggling to work out how we get the public to access the right care provider for their problem at that time. So maybe this is a solution. Maybe doctors, have a new role to play in assessing people earlier rather than people going through so many steps down a potentially unsuitable line of care. We’re starting to see consultants running triage at A&Es, we’re starting to see doctors out in cars like this. Get in on the ground floor guys and girls, I think we’re going to start being “first on scene” a little more often than we might be used to, even if you never leave the hospital.  
Adam Collins
over 5 years ago
Foo20151013 2023 13vodzp?1444774194
9
160

Is ADHD a difficult diagnosis?

In a recent article in the BMJ the author wonders about the reasons beyond the rising trend diagnosing Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The article attempts to infer reasons for this. One possible reason was that the diagnostic criteria especially DSM may seem for some to be more inclusive than ICD-10. The speculation may explain the rise of the diagnosis where DSM is used officially or have an influence. In a rather constructive way, an alternative to rushing to diagnosis is offered and discussed in some details. The tentative deduction that the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) may be one of the causes of rising diagnosis, due to raising the cut-off of age, and widening the inclusion criteria, as opposed to International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision (ICD-10), captured my attention. On reading the ICD-10 diagnostic criteria for research (DCR) and DSM-5 diagnostic criteria, I found them quite similar in most aspects, even the phraseology that starts with 'Often' in many diagnostic criteria, they seem to differ a bit in age. In a way both classification, are attempting to describe the disorder, however, it sounds as if someone is trying to explain a person's behaviour to you, however, this is not a substitute to direct clinical learning, and observing the behaviour, as if the missing sentence is 'when you see the person, it will be clearer'. El-Islam agrees with the notion that DSM-5 seems to be a bit more inclusive than ICD-10. A colleague of mine who is a child psychiatrist and she is doing her MSc. thesis in ADHD told me, that DSM-5 seems to be a substantial improvement as compared to its predecessor. The criteria - to her - though apparently are more inclusive, they are more descriptive with many examples, and she infers that this will payback in the reliability of the diagnosis. She hopes gene research can yield in biological tests for implicated genes and neurotransmitters in ADHD e.g. DRD4, DAT, gene 5,6,11 etc. One child psychiatrist, regretted the fact that misdiagnosis and under-diagnoses, deprive the patient from one of the most effective treatments in psychiatry. It is hoped the nearest forthcoming diagnostic classification (ICD-11), will address the issue of the diagnosis from a different perspective, or else converge with DSM-5 to provide coherence and a generalised newer standard of practice. The grading of ADHD into mild, moderate, and severe seem to blur the border between disorder and non-disorder, however, this quasi-dimensional approach seems realistic, it does not translate yet directly in differences in treatment approaches as with the case of mild, moderate, severe, and severe depression with psychotic symptoms, or intellectual disability. The author states that one counter argument could be that child psychiatrists are better at diagnosing the disorder. I wonder if this is a reflection of a rising trend of a disorder. If ADHD is compared to catatonia, it is generally agreed that catatonia is less diagnosed now, may be the epidemiology of ADHD is not artefact, and that we may need to look beyond the diagnosis to learn for example from environmental factors. Another issue is that there seems to be significant epidemiological differences in the rates of diagnosis across cultures. This may give rise to whether ADHD can be classified as a culture-bound syndrome, or whether it is influenced by culture like anorexia nervosa, or it may be just because of the raising awareness to such disorders. Historically, it is difficult to attempt to pinpoint what would be the closest predecessor to ADHD. For schizophrenia and mania, older terms may have included insanity, for depression it was probably melancholia, there are other terms that still reside in contemporary culture e.g. hypochondriasis, hysteria, paranoia etc. Though, it would be too simplistic to believe that what is meant by these terms was exactly what ancient cultures meant by them, but, they are not too far. ADHD seems to lack such historical underpinning. Crichton described a disorder he refers to as 'mental restlessness'. Still who is most often credited with the first description of ADHD, in his 1902 address to the Royal College of Physicians. Still describes a number of patients with problems in self-regulation or, as he then termed it, 'moral control' (De Zeeuw et al, 2011). The costs and the risks related to over-diagnosis, ring a warning bell, to enhance scrutiny in the diagnosis, due to subsequent stigma, costs, and lowered societal expectations. They all seem to stem from the consequences of the methodology of diagnosis. The article touches in an important part in the psychiatric diagnosis, and classifications, which is the subjective nature of disorders. The enormous effort done in DSM-5 & ICD-10 reflect the best available evidence, but in order to eliminate the subjective nature of illness, a biological test seems to be the only definitive answer, to ADHD in particular and psychiatry in general. Given that ADHD is an illness and that it is a homogeneous thing; developments in gene studies would seem to hold the key to understanding our current status of diagnosis. The suggested approach for using psychosocial interventions and then administering treatment after making sure that it is a must, seems quite reasonable. El-Islam, agrees that in ADHD caution prior to giving treatment is a recommended course of action. Another consultant child psychiatrist mentioned that one hour might not be enough to reach a comfortable diagnosis of ADHD. It may take up to 90 minutes, to become confident in a clinical diagnosis, in addition to commonly used rating scales. Though on the other hand, families and carers may hypothetically raise the issue of time urgency due to scholastic pressure. In a discussion with Dr Hend Badawy, a colleague child psychiatrist; she stated the following with regards to her own experience, and her opinion about the article. The following is written with her consent. 'ADHD is a clinically based diagnosis that has three core symptoms, inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity in - at least - two settings. The risk of over-diagnosis in ADHD is one of the potentially problematic, however, the risk of over-diagnosis is not confined to ADHD, it can be present in other psychiatric diagnoses, as they rely on subjective experience of the patient and doctor's interviewing skills. In ADHD in particular the risk of under-diagnosis is even more problematic. An undiagnosed child who has ADHD may suffer various complications as moral stigma of 'lack of conduct' due to impuslivity and hyperactivity, poor scholastic achievement, potential alienation, ostracization and even exclusion by peer due to perceived 'difference', consequent feelings of low self esteem and potential revengeful attitude on the side of the child. An end result, would be development of substance use disorders, or involvement in dissocial behaviours. The answer to the problem of over-diagnosis/under-diagnosis can be helped by an initial step of raising public awareness of people about ADHD, including campaigns to families, carers, teachers and general practitioners. These campaigns would help people identify children with possible ADHD. The only risk is that child psychiatrists may be met with children who their parents believe they might have the disorder while they do not. In a way, raising awareness can serve as a sensitive laboratory investigation. The next step is that the child psychiatrist should scrutinise children carefully. The risk of over-diagnosis can be limited via routine using of checklists, to make sure that the practice is standardised and that every child was diagnosed properly according to the diagnostic criteria. The use of proper scales as Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) in its two forms (for parents SDQ-P and for teachers SDQ-T) which enables the assessor to learn about the behaviour of the child in two different settings. Conner's scale can help give better understanding of the magnitude of the problem. Though some people may voice criticism as they are mainly filled out by parents and teachers, they are the best tools available at hands. Training on diagnosis, regular auditing and restricting doctors to a standard practice of ensuring that the child and carer have been interviewed thoroughly can help minimise the risk of over-diagnosis. The issue does not stop by diagnosis, follow-up can give a clue whether the child is improving on the management plan or not. The effects and side effects of treatments as methylphenidate should be monitored regularly, including regular measurement height and weight, paying attention to nausea, poor appetite, and even the rare side effects which are usually missed. More restrictions and supervision on the medication may have an indirect effect on enhancing the diagnostic assessment. To summarise, the public advocacy does not increase the risk of over-diagnosis, as asking about suicidal ideas does not increase its risk. The awareness may help people learn more and empower them and will lead to more acceptance of the diagnosed child in the community. Even the potential risk of having more case loads for doctors to assess for ADHD may help give more exposure of cases, and reaching more meaningful epidemiological finding. From my experience, it is quite unlikely to have marked over-representation of children who the families suspect ADHD without sufficient evidence. ADHD remains a clinical diagnosis, and it is unlikely that it will be replaced by a biological marker or an imaging test in the near future. After all, even if there will be objective diagnostic tests, without clinical diagnostic interviewing their value will be doubtful. It is ironic that the two most effective treatments in psychiatry methylphenidate and Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) are the two most controversial treatments. May be because both were used prior to having a full understanding of their mechanism of action, may be because, on the outset both seem unusual, electricity through the head, and a stimulant for hyperactive children. Authored by E. Sidhom, H. Badawy DISCLAIMER The original post is on The BMJ doc2doc website at http://doc2doc.bmj.com/blogs/clinicalblog/#plckblogpage=BlogPost&plckpostid=Blog%3A15d27772-5908-4452-9411-8eef67833d66Post%3Acb6e5828-8280-4989-9128-d41789ed76ee BMJ Article: (http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f6172). Bibliography Badawy, H., personal communication, 2013 El-Islam, M.F., personal communication, 2013 Thomas R, Mitchell GK, B.L., Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: are we helping or harming?, British Medical Journal, 2013, Vol. 5(347) De Zeeuw P., Mandl R.C.W., Hulshoff-Pol H.E., et al., Decreased frontostriatal microstructural organization in ADHD. Human Brain Mapping. DOI: 10.1002/hbm.21335, 2011) Diagnostic Statistical Manual 5, American Psychiatric Association, 2013 Diagnostic Statistical Manual-IV, American Psychiatric Association, 1994 International Classification of Diseases, World Health Organization, 1992  
Dr Emad Sidhom
over 5 years ago
Foo20151013 2023 1nftkgk?1444774218
4
296

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
over 5 years ago
Foo20151013 2023 1esaolp?1444774272
6
279

Medical Blogging, an overview, pearl or peril

Medical blogging is blogging in the field of medicine. It is a relatively recent addition to the medical field. While its closest predecessor medical journalism; is about 300 years old, medical blogging is currently about a decade old. This blogpost aims at exploring the field of medical blogging and comparing it to related disciplines when relevant. It examines some opinions of bloggers, and reviews some medical blogs aiming to infer reasons for blogging, derive technique or outline of blog and hopefully arriving at a conclusion to the future prospects of medical blogging. Medicine is the practice of the art and science of healing 'ars medicina'. It is a branch of applied science, which started probably in the pre-historic era. The practice continued to flourish, specialise, sub-specialise and sub-sub-specialise. The word blog is most probably derived from the contraction of the words 'web log' which is a form of website that is more interactive, allowing comments, tagging,and is displayed in counter-chronological order from the most recent at the top of the page. The term 'blog' is currently used as a noun as well as a verb. The aggregation of blogs is named 'blogosphere', and the blog writer is named 'blogger'. There are single author blogs and multi-author blogs, they are as diverse in there content as the diversity of the bloggers, with regards to form they can be written text, images, videos, sounds or combination of more than one medium. The term 'blogroll' is referred to blogs followed by a person. Blogging is just more than a decade old now. However, the number of blogs have been increasing exponentially at times. The concept of blogging is considered as one of the components of the concept of web 2.0. Medical blogs refer to blogs that are primarily concerned with medical/health subjects. The name 'medical blog' is derived from content based taxonomic classification. Medical blogs can be classified by author, there are blogs by physicians, nurses, patients, medical institutions, medical journals, and anonymous blogs. They can be classified by target audience as either to other doctors, patients and carers, general public or a combination of more than one target. There are also medical blogs by patients or patient blogs that expresses their viewpoints. A study examined medical student blogs and concluded that they might be beneficial for students to reflect on their experience (Pinilla et al, 2013). The Nephrology Dialysis and Transplantation (NDT) made it own blog (El Nahas, 2012). The American Journal of Kidney Disorder (AJKD) made its own official blog (Desai et al, 2013). During the same year, the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association launched their official blog (Sanossian & Merino, 2013). Pereira discussed the blogs by neurosurgeons (Pereira et al, 2012). In the BMJ doc2doc blogs, they do not have to meet certain number of word count but will have to be reviewed prior to publication. KevinMD requires blog posts to be of maximum five hundred words, Medical-Reference require a minimum of one thousand words. Meducation requires a blog post to vary between 1500-3000 word. Independent blogs may show more variation in the number of words per blog post. Some blogs are predominantly in text format, other may combine multimedia or get linked to other medical blogs. The BMJ doc2doc tentatively recommends blog posting to be in the frequency of one to two blogs/month. Chrislyn Pepper, a medical blog writer, (2013) states that medical blogging can aim to be 'three blogs of 300+ words each week and three to four short blogs of less than a hundred words five days per week.' Medical bloggers seem to have various reasons to blog, some communicate clinical data to fellow doctors, in this case some blogs seem to resemble research or review articles in content and language which can contain medical jargon. There are diagnosis blogs that were studied by Miller and Pole (2010). The comparison between the electronic predecessors of blogging including Electronic Bulletin Board, USENET, and emailing in addition to the why of blogging in general has been discussed by Mongkolwat (Mongkolwat et al, 2005). Some put their hypotheses forward, others share clinical experience or discuss a clinical matter. Some bloggers direct their attention to the general public providing information about medical topics. Some discuss issues which can be difficult to be put in research topics. Dr Rob discussed that importance of medical blogging as an equivalent to the concept of democracy in an online world. Doctor Blogger website offers 10 reasons for medical blogging including public education, correction of misconceptions and establishing a name. For the medical blogger's direct benefit Medical Rant blog offers an overview of personal benefits from medical blogging including stimulation of thought and stimulation of academic writing. Dr Wible seems to use her medical blog to promote a standard of care that seems to be a mix between the medical model and the befriending model of care. Another study examined the young adults blogging and concluded that powerlessness, loneliness, alienation, and lack of connection with others, where the primary outcomes of young adults as a result of mental health concerns (Eysenbach et al, 2012). Wolinsky (2011) enquires whether scientists should stick to popularizing science or more. Medical blogs are essentially online activity which renders them immediately accessible to any area with internet connection, they are paperless by definition which makes them more environment friendly. The medical blogs are open access by default which adds to the accessibility, and they are decentralised which decreases control over the control and seems to accentuate diversity. As compared to peer reviewed journals, medical blogs seem to be less referenced, are hardly ever taken as academic writing, the process of peer reviewed medical blogs is minimal if any, and they do not get reflected on resume or be considered as publication, though the term 'blogfolio' started to become a watch word. It seems hard to base clinical decisions on medical blogs. However, medical blogs can offer more diversity into research and non-research medical topics. They are published online with no delay or review time, they can comment on the most recent advances in the medical field or most contemporary issues instantaneously. Very recently, citing blogs seems to become a bit accepted. BMJ Journals have their dedicated blogs Some online resources give a comprehensive outline on blogging in general and medical blogging in particular including video interview with a medical blogger Michelle Guilemard in her blog makes a valid point of how medical blogging can enhance career. Medical Squid also highlighted medical blogging as a career Kovic et al (2008) conducted a research on the medical blogosphere an concluded that 'Medical bloggers are highly educated and devoted blog writers, faithful to their sources and readers'. Miller & Pole (2010) concluded that 'Blogs are an integral part of this next stage in the development '. Stanwell-Smith (2013) discussed the aspect as an important tool to communicate with patients. The blur between academia and blogging was discussed in research blogs. (Sheema et al, 2012). During the same another study discussed the impact of blogging on research (Fausto et al, 2012). While Baerlocher & Detsky (2008) warn in an article against the hazards of medical blogging due to potential breach of confidentiality. After an exhaustive study of the content of weblog written by health professional, Lagu reached the concern of breaching of confidentiality (Lagu et al, 2007). Rebecca Golden (2007) cites the perils of medical blogging she concludes her article saying 'Science has a peer-review process for a reason'. Brendan Koerner (2007) in wired magazines posted an article about the problems of giving medical advice via blogging. Dr Val Jones makes a point by concluding that social media provide the 'allure of influence'. Thomas Robey (2008) offers arguments for and against medical blogging, including confidentiality, and ruining personal reputation on the negative side, while enhancing democratization of conversation and having a creative outlet on the positive side. Brendel offers an intriguing discussion to whether it would be ethical or not to monitor patients' blog to determine their health status. (Brendel, 2012). O'Reilly voiced in 2007 the need for blogging code of conduct. The GMC published guidance on the use of social media by doctors and it included blogging as a form of social media. The Royal College of General Practitioners also published the social media high way code to offer guidance on social media including medical blogging. There is also the medblog oath online. Flaherty (2013) argues that blogging is under attack by micro-blogging, and that it is in its deathbed. Mike Myatt in his article Is Blogging Dead, discusses various views about blogging in an era of micro-blogging The Royal College of Psychiatrists recently introduced a number of blogs including the president's blog, overseas blogs and other blogs. The medical blogging seems to occupy a middle space between the quick micro-blogging and the thoughtful research article. Its diversity and freedom are its strongest tools and can have the potential to be its worst enemies. One wonders whether the emergence of guidelines for medical blogging – given the seriousness of the content – would save medical blogging and elevate it to the next level or change the essence of it. After all, the question is how much the medical field which is a top-down hierarchy accept grass-root movement. Freedom of expression is probably at the heart of blogging. It would be logistically impossible to impose rules on it. However, guidelines and code of honour may help delineating the quality of medical blogs from each other. This post is previously posted on doc2doc blogs. Bibliography & Blogiography Brendel, D. Monitoring Blogs: A New Dilemma for Psychiatrists Journal of Ethics, American Medical Association, 2012, Vol. 14(6), pp. 441-444 Desai, T., S.M.A.N.V.S.K.T.J.K.C.K.B.E.J.K.D. The State of the Blog: The First Year of eAJKD Am J Kidney Dis., 2013, Vol. 61(1), pp. 1-2 El Nahas, M. An NDT blog Nephrol Dial Transplant (2012) 27: 3377–3378, 2012, Vol. 27, pp. 3377-3378 Eysenbach, G., B.K.M.M. What Are Young Adults Saying About Mental Health? An Analysis of Internet Blogs Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2012, Vol. 14(1) Fausto, S. Machado, F.B.L.I.A.N.T.M.D. Research Blogging: Indexing and Registering the Change in Science 2.0 PLoS one, 2012, Vol. 7(12), pp. 1-10 Lagu, T, K.E.J.D.A.A.A.K. Content of Weblogs Written by Health Professionals J Gen Intern Med, 2008, Vol. 23(10), pp. 1642–6 Miller, EA., P.A. Diagnosis Blog: Checking Up on Health Blogs in the Blogosphere American Journal of Public Health, 2010, Vol. 8, pp. 1514-1518 Mongkolwat, P. Kogan, A.K.J.C.D. Blogging Your PACS Journal of Digital Imaging, 2005, Vol. 18(4), pp. 326-332 Pereira, JLB., K.P. d.A.L. d.C.G. d.S.A. Blogs for neurosurgeons Surgical Neurology International, 2012, Vol. 3:62 Pinilla, S. Weckbach, L.A.S.B.H.N.D.S.K.T.S. Blogging Medical Students: A Qualitative Analysis  
Dr Emad Sidhom
about 5 years ago
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27
1005

Confidence Building During Medical Training

My fellow medical students, interns, residents and attendings: I am not a medical student but an emeritus professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, and also a voluntary faculty member at the Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. I have a great deal of contact with medical students and residents. During training (as student or resident), gaining confidence in one's own abilities is a very important part of becoming a practitioner. This aspect of training does not always receive the necessary attention and emphasis. Below I describe one of the events of confidence building that has had an important and lasting influence on my career as an academic physician. I graduated from medical school in Belgium many years ago. I came to the US to do my internship in a small hospital in up state NY. I was as green as any intern could be, as medical school in Belgium at that time had very little hands on practice, as opposed to the US medical graduates. I had a lot of "book knowledge" but very little practical confidence in myself. The US graduates were way ahead of me. My fellow interns, residents and attendings were really understanding and did their best to build my confidence and never made me feel inferior. One such confidence-building episodes I remember vividly. Sometime in the middle part of the one-year internship, I was on call in the emergency room and was called to see a woman who was obviously in active labor. She was in her thirties and had already delivered several babies before. The problem was that she had had no prenatal care at all and there was no record of her in the hospital. I began by asking her some standard questions, like when her last menstrual period had been and when she thought her due date was. I did not get far with my questioning as she had one contraction after another and she was not interested in answering. Soon the bag of waters broke and she said that she had to push. The only obvious action for me at that point was to get ready for a delivery in the emergency room. There was no time to transport the woman to the labor and delivery room. There was an emergency delivery “pack” in the ER, which the nurses opened for me while I quickly washed my hands and put on gloves. Soon after, a healthy, screaming, but rather small baby was delivered and handed to the pediatric resident who had been called. At that point it became obvious that there was one more baby inside the uterus. Realizing that I was dealing with a twin pregnancy, I panicked, as in my limited experience during my obstetrical rotation some months earlier I had never performed or even seen a twin delivery. I asked the nurses to summon the chief resident, who promptly arrived to my great relief. I immediately started peeling off my gloves to make room for the resident to take my place and deliver this twin baby. However, after verifying that this baby was also a "vertex" without any obvious problem, he calmly stood by, and over my objections, bluntly told me “you can do it”, even though I kept telling him that this was a first for me. I delivered this healthy, screaming twin baby in front of a large number of nurses and doctors crowding the room, only to realize that this was not the end of it and that indeed there was a third baby. Now I was really ready to step aside and let the chief resident take over. However he remained calm and again, stood by and assured me that I could handle this situation. I am not even sure how many triplets he had delivered himself as they are not too common. Baby number three appeared quickly and also was healthy and vigorous. What a boost to my self-confidence that was! I only delivered one other set of triplets later in my career and that was by C-Section. All three babies came head first. If one of them had been a breech the situation might have been quite different. What I will never forget is the implied lesson in confidence building the chief resident gave me. I have always remembered that. In fact I have put this approach in practice numerous times when the roles were reversed later in my career as teacher. Often in a somewhat difficult situation at the bedside or in the operating room, a student or more junior doctor would refer to me to take over and finish a procedure he or she did not feel qualified to do. Many times I would reassure and encourage that person to continue while I talked him or her through it. Many of these junior doctors have told me afterwards how they appreciated this confidence building. Of course one has to be careful to balance this approach with patient safety and I have never delegated responsibility in critical situations and have often taken over when a junior doctor was having trouble. Those interested, can read more about my experiences in the US and a number of other countries, in a free e book, entitled "Crosscultural Doctoring. On and Off the Beaten Path" can be downloaded at this link. Enjoy!  
DR William LeMaire
about 5 years ago
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A curious epidemic of superficial accesses in Africa

This anecdote happened many years ago when I was a brand new (read: inexperienced) physician doing my stint in the Colonial Health Service of the former Belgian Congo. I was assigned to a small hospital in the interior of the Maniema province. Soft tissue infections and abscesses were rather common in this tropical climate, but at one time there seemed to be virtual epidemic of abscesses on the buttocks or upper arms. It seemed that patients with these abscesses were all coming from one area of the territory. That seemed rather odd and we started investigating. By way of background let me say that the hospital was also serving several outlying clinics or dispensaries in the territory. Health aides were assigned to a specific dispensary on a periodic basis. Patients would know his schedule and come to the dispensary for their treatments. Now this was the era of “penicillin.” The natives were convinced that this wonder drug would cure all their ailments, from malaria and dysentery, to headaches, infertility, and impotence. You name it and penicillin was thought to be the cure-all. No wonder they would like to get an injection of penicillin for whatever their ailment was. As our investigation demonstrated, the particular health aide assigned to the dispensary from where most of the abscesses came, would swipe a vial of penicillin and a bottle of saline from the hospital’s pharmacy on his way out to his assigned dispensary. When he arrived at his dispensary there was usually already a long line of patients waiting with various ailments. He would get out his vial of the “magic” penicillin, show the label to the crowd and pour it in the liter bottle of saline; shake it up and then proceed to give anyone, who paid five Belgian Francs (at that time equivalent to .10 US $), which he pocketed, an injection of the penicillin, now much diluted in the large bottle of physiologic solution. To make matters worse, he used only one syringe and one needle. No wonder there were so many abscesses in the area of injection. Of course we quickly put a stop to that. Anyone interested in reading more about my experience in Africa and many other areas can download a free e book via Smashwords at: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/161522 . The title of the book is "Crosscultural Doctoring. On and Off the Beaten Path"  
DR William LeMaire
about 5 years ago
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The Importance Of Clinical Skills

In the USA the issue of indiscriminate use of expensive, sophisticated, and time consuming test in lieu of, rather than in addition to, the clinical exam is being much discussed. The cause of this problem is of course multifactorial. One of the factors is the decline of the teaching of clinical skills to our medical students and trainees. Such problems seem to have taken hold in developing countries as well. Two personal anecdotes will illustrate this. In the early nineties I worked for two years as a faculty member in the department of ob & gyn at the Aga Khan University Medical School in Karachi, Pakistan. One day, I received a call from the resident in the emergency room about a woman who had come in because of some abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding. While the resident told me these two symptoms her next sentence was: “… and the pelvic ultrasound showed…” I stopped her right in her tracks before she could tell me the result of the ultrasound scan. I told her: “First tell me more about this patient. Does she look ill? Is she bleeding heavily? Is she in a lot of pain and where is the pain? What are her blood pressure and pulse rate? How long has she been having these symptoms? When was her last menstrual period? What are your findings when you examined her ? What is the result of the pregnancy test?”. The resident could not answer most of these basic clinical questions and findings. She had proceeded straight to a test which might or might not have been necessary or even indicated and she was not using her clinical skills or judgment. In another example, the resident, also in Karachi, called me to the emergency room about a patient with a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. He told me that the patient was pale, and obviously bleeding inside her abdomen and on the verge of going into shock. The resident had accurately made the diagnosis, based on the patient’s history, examination, and a few basic laboratory tests. But when I ran down to see the patient, he was wheeling the patient into the radiology department for an ultrasound. "Why an ultrasound?" I asked. “You already have made the correct diagnosis and she needs an urgent operation not another diagnostic procedure that will take up precious time before we can stop the internal bleeding.” Instead of having the needless ultrasound, the patient was wheeled into the operating room. What I am trying to emphasize is that advances in technology are great but they need to be used judiciously and young medical students and trainees need to be taught to use their clinical skills first and then apply new technologies, if needed, to help them to come to the right diagnosis and treatment. And of course we, practicing physicians need to set the example. Or am I old fashioned and not with it? Medico legal and other issues may come to play here and I am fully aware of these. However the basic issue of clinical exam is still important. Those wanting to read more similar stories can download a free e book from Smashwords. The title is: "CROSSCULTURAL DOCTORING. ON AND OFF THE BEATEN PATH." You can access the e book here.  
DR William LeMaire
about 5 years ago
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310

Why doesn’t the NHS make money?

The NHS provides care free at the point of us to British citizens and anyone who needs emergency care while in the UK. It tries to provide every kind of service and treatment that it can but obviously there are limits. The NHS gets its money mainly from governments taxes, charities, research grants, some payment for services and from renting out retail space etc. Healthcare is a financial blackhole, any money put in the budget will get spent, efficiently and effectively or not. The NHS is constantly being expected to provide a better, more efficient service and new treatments, without a comparable increase in government funding. So, why doesn’t the NHS set up services that could make it money? Some money making suggestions Gift shops and NHS clothing brand – The American hospital I went to for elective had quite a large shop near the entrance that sold hospital branded goods. People love the NHS and it could make itself a brand, “I love the NHS” t-shirts, “I was born here” ties, “I gave birth at Blah hospital” car stickers, hats, jackets, tracksuits, teddy bears in white coats and so many more things could be sold in this shops to raise money for the NHS. Patients in a hospital are a captive market and their visitors are semi-captive. The captives get very bored! Why not provide opportunities for these people to spend their money and relieve the boredom while they are in hospital with some retail therapy? For instance, new hospitals should be built with a shopping mall in them and a cinema. A couple of clothes shops would give people something to do and raise money from rent. While we are on the subject of new hospitals, they should be designed with the input of the clinical staff who know how to maximise the flow of patients through the "patient pathway". Hospitals should be built like industrial conveyor belts: patients enter through ED, get stabilised, get fixed in theatre, stabilised again in ITU, recover on the wards and out the exit to social services and the outpatient clinics. New hospitals should be designed to sit on top of HUGE underground multi-story car parks. If shopping centres can do this then so can hospitals. Almost all hospitals are short of parking spaces and most car parks are eye sores. So, try to plan from the beginning to get as many car parking spaces as possible. Estimate how many are needed for staff and visitors - then double it! Also, design a park and ride system so additional parking is available off site. If costa can make money from a coffee shop in an NHS hospital, why isn’t the NHS setting up its own brand of high quality coffee shops in the hospitals and cutting out Costa the middle man? “NHS healthy eating” – NHS branded diet plans or ready meals could be produced in partnership with a supermarket brand. Mixing public heath, profit and the NHS brand. “Good for you and good for the NHS” The NHS could set up hospitals abroad that are for profit institutions that use the NHS structures, or market our services to foreigners that they then pay for. Health tourism is a thing, why not make the most of it? “NHS plus” – the NHS should be a two tier system. Hours of 8am til 6pm should be for elective procedures free at the point of use and free emergency care. Between 6pm and 11pm the hospitals currently only do emergency care, so there is loads of rooms and kit lying about unused. Why not allow hospitals to set up systems where patients can pay for an evening slot in the MRI scanner and cut the queue? Allow surgeons to pay to use the facilities for private procedures in the evenings. Allow physicians to pay to use the outpatients clinics for private work after hours. An “NHS Journal” could publish research and audits conducted within and relevant to the NHS. “NHS pharma” – the NHS buys a huge amount of off patent drugs, why not produce them itself? Set up a drug company that produces off patent medication, these can be given to the NHS at cost price and sold to other healthcare providers for profit. NHS pharma could also work with British universities and researchers to produce new drugs for the British market that would be cheaper than new Drug company drugs because they wouldn’t need huge advertising budgets. There are so many ways the NHS could make more money for itself that could then be used to deliver newer and better treatments. Yes, it is a shift in ideology and culture, but I am sure it would have positive outcomes for the NHS and patients. If you have any ideas on how the NHS could produce more money then please do leave a comment.  
jacob matthews
about 5 years ago
Foo20151013 2023 1crpsox?1444774314
5
483

Neuropsychiatry's Fuzzy Borderlands

In NeuroPsychiatry it might be difficult to locate its territory, and find its niche. This might be an uneasy endeavour as its two parent branches neurology and psychiatry are still viable, also it siblings organic psychiatry, behavioural neurology and biological psychiatry are also present. This blogpost attempts to search for the definition and domains of neuropsychiatry. Neuropsychiatry can be defined as the 'biologic face' of mental health (Royal Melbourne Hospital, Neuropsychiatry unit). It is the neurological aspects of psychiatry and the psychiatric aspects of neurology (Pacific Neurpsychiatry Institute). It is not a new term. Many physicians used to brand themselves as neuropsychiatrists at the rise of the twentieth century. It has been looked upon with a sense of unease as a hybrid branch. Also, it was subject to pejorative connotations, as the provenance of amateurs in both parent disciplines (Lishman, 1987). The foundational claim is that 'all' mental disorders are disorders of the brain' (Berrios and Marková, 2002). The American NeuroPsychiatric Association (ANPA) defines it as 'the integrated study of psychiatric and neurologic disorders' (ANPA, 2013). The overlap between neuropsychiatry and biological psychiatry was observed (Trimble and George, 2010) as the domain of enquiry of the first and the approach of the second will meet at point. Berrios and Marková seemed to have focused on the degree of conversion among biological psychiatry, organic psychiatry, neuropsychiatry and behavioural neurology. They stated that they share the same foundational claims (FCcs): (1) mental disorder is a disorder of the brain; (2) reasons are not good enough as causes of mental disorder; and (3) biological psychiatry and its congeners have the patrimony of scientific truth. They further elaborated that the difference is primarily due to difference in historic origins. (D'haenen et al., 2002). The American Neuropsychiatric Association (ANPA) defines neuropsychiatry as the integrative study of neurological and psychiatric disorders on a clinical level, on a theoretical level; ANPA defines it as the bridge between neuroscience and clinical practice. The interrelation between both specialities is adopted by The Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists as it defines it as a psychiatric subspeciality. This seems to resonate the concept that 'biologisation' of psychiatry is inevitable (Sachdev and Mohan, 2013). The definition according to Gale Encyclopedia encompasses the interface between the two disciplines (Fundukian and Wilson, 2008). In order to acknowledge the wide use of the term 'neuropsychiatry'; the fourth edition of Lishman's Organic Psychiatry, appeared and it was renamed as 'textbook of neuropsychiatry'. The editor stated that the term is not used in its more restrictive sense (David, 2009). Ostow backtracked the origin of biological causes for illness to humoral view of temperament.In the nineteenth century, the differentiation between both did not seem to be apparent. The schism seems to have emerged in the twentieth century. The difficulties that arose with such early adoption of neuronal basis to psychiatric disorders are that they were based on on unsubstantiated beliefs and wild logic rather than scientific substance. (Panksepp, 2004). Folstein stated that Freud and Charcot postulated psychological and social roots for abnormal behaviours, thus differentiating neurology from psychiatry. (David, 2009). The separation may have lead to alienation of doctors on both camps and helped in creating an arbitary division in their scope of knowledge and skills. The re-emergence of interest in neurospsychiatry has been described to be due to the growing sense of discomfort in the lack of acknowledgment of brain disorders when considering psychiatric symptoms (Arciniegas and Beresford, 2001). There is considerable blurring regarding defining the territory and the boundaries of neuropsychiatry. The Royal College of Psychiatrists founded section of Neuropsychiatry in 2008. The major working groups include epilepsy, sleep disorders, brain injury and complex neurodisability. In 1987 the British NeuroPsychiatry Association was established, to address the professional need for distinction, without adopting the concept of formal affiliation with parent disciplinary bodies as the Royal College of Psychiatrists. The ANPA was founded in 1988. It issued training guide for residents. The guide included neurological and psychiatric assessments, interpretation of EEG and brain imaging techniques. With regards to the territory, it included delirium, dementia, psychosis, mood and anxiety disorders due to general medical condition. Neurpsychiatric aspects of psychopharmacologic treatments, epilepsy, neuropsychiatric aspects of traumatic brain injury and stroke. The diagnosis of movement disorders, neurobehavioural disorders, demyelinating disease, intellectual and developmental disorders, as well as sleep disorders was also included. The World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry (WFSBP) was established in Buenos Aires in 1974 to address the rising significance of biological psychiatry and to join local national societies together. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), is currently working on a biologically-based diagnosis, that incorporates neural circuits, cells, molecules to behavioural changes. The diagnostic system - named 'Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) - is agnostic to current classification systems DSM-5 & ICD-10. Especially that the current diagnostic classficiations are mostly based on descriptive rather than neurobiological aetiological basis. (Insel et al., 2010). For example, the ICD-10 F-Code designates the first block to Organic illness, however, it seems to stop short of localisation of the cause of illness apart from the common prefix organic. It also addresses adverse drug events as tardive dyskinesia but stops short of describing it neural correlates. Also, psychosocial roots of mental illness seem to be apparent in aetiologically-based diagnoses as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, acute stress reaction, and adjustment disorders, the diagnostic cluster emphasise the necessity of having 'stress'. Other diagnoses seem to draw from the psychodynamic literature, e.g. conversion[dissociative] disorder. The need for neuropsychiatry, has been increasing as the advances in diagnostic imaging and laboratory investigations became more clinically relevant. Nowadays, there are tests as DaT-Scan that can tell the difference between neurocognitive disorder with Lewy Bodies and Parkinson's Disease. Vascular neurocognitive disorders warrant imaging as the rule rather than the exception, vascular depression has been addressed is a separate entity. Frontal Lobe Syndromes have been subdivided into orbitofrontal and dorsolateral (Moore,2008) Much training is needed to address this subspeciality. The early cases that may have stirred up the neurological roots of psychiatric disorders can be backdated to the case of Phineas Gage, and later, the case H.M. The eearlier fruits of adopting a neuropsychiatric perspective can be shown in the writings of Eliot Slater, as he attempted to search for the scientific underpinnings of psychiatry, and helped via seminal articles to highlight the organic aspect of psychiatry. Articles like 'The diagnosis of "Hysteria", where Slater, challenged the common wisdom of concepts like hysteria and conversion, rejecting the social roots of mental illness, and presenting a very strong case for the possibility of organicity, and actual cases of for which 'hysteria' was a plain misdiagnosis was way ahead of its time prior to CT Brain. Slater even challenged the mere existence of the concept of 'hysteria. (Slater, 1965) Within the same decade Alwyn Lishman published his textbook 'Organic Psychiatry' addressing the organic aspects of psychiatric disorders. Around the same time, the pioneers of social/psychological roots of mental illness became under attack. Hans Eysenck, published his book 'Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire'. Eysenck stated clearly that the case of Anna O. seems to have been mispresented and that she never had 'hysteria' and recovered she actually had 'tuberculous meningitis' and she died of its complications (Eysenck, 1986). To summarise, it seems difficult and may be futile to sharply delineate neurpsychiatry, biological psychiatry, organic psychiatry and behavioural neurology. However, it seems important to learn about the biological psychiatry as an approach and practice neuropsychiatry as a subspeciality. The territory is yet unclear from gross organic lesions as stroke to the potential of encompassing entire psychiatry as the arbitary distinction between 'functional' and 'organic' fades away. Perhaps practice will help to shape the domain of the speciality, and imaging will guide it. To date, the number of post-graduate studies are still low in comparison to the need for such speciality, much more board certification may be needed as well as the currently emerging masters and doctoral degrees. This post is previously posted on bmj doc2doc blogs Bibliography Eysenck, H.J., Decline and Fall of the Freudian Empire, Pelican Series, 1986 German E Berrios, I.S.M., The concept of neuropsychiatry: A historical overview, Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 2002, Vol. 53, pp. 629-638 Kieran O’Driscoll, J.P.L., “No longer Gage”: an iron bar through the head, British Medical Journal, 1998, Vol. 317, pp. 1637-1638 Perminder S. Sachdev, A.M., Neuropsychiatry: Where Are We And Where Do We Go From Here?, Mens Sana Monographs, 2013, Vol. 11(1), pp. 4-15 Slater, E., The Diagnosis of "Hysteria", British Medical Journal, 1965, Vol. 5447(1), pp. 1395–1399 Thomas Insel, Bruce Cuthbert, R.H.M.G.K.Q.C.S.P.W., Research Domain Criteria (RDoC): Toward a New Classification Framework for Research on Mental Disorders, American Journal of Psychiatry, 2010, Vol. 167:7, pp. 748-751 Organic Psychiatry, Anthony S. David, Simon Fleminger, M. D. K. S. L. J. D. M. (ed.), Wiley-Blackwell, 2009 Neuropsychiatry an introductory approach, Arciniegas & Beresford (ed.), Cambridge University Press, 2001 Biological Psychiatry, Hugo D’haenen, J.A. den Boer, P. W. (ed.), John Wiley and Sons, 2010 Gale Encyclopedia of Mental Health, Laurie J. Fundukian, J. W. (ed.), Thomson Gale, 2008 Biological Psychiatry, M. Trimble, M. G. (ed.), Wiley-Blackwell, 2010 Textbook of Neuropsychiatry, Moore, D. P. (ed.), Hodder Arnold, 2008 Textbook of Biological Psychiatry, Panksepp, J. (ed.), John Wiley and Sons, 2004 The American Neuropsychiatric Association Website www.anpaonline.org The Royal Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Unit Website http://www.neuropsychiatry.org.au/ The British Neuropsychiatry Association website www.bnpa.org.uk The Royal College of Psychiatrists website www.rcpsych.ac.uk The World Federation of Societies of Biological Psychiatry website www.wfsbp.org  
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