A Patient is just as responsible as their Doctor

The Patient’s Duty:

Deutsch: Ein Arzt beim Abhorchen der Lungen mi...

–       Know how to communicate effectively with medical staff.

Rudeness will not aid or speed up your care, and there is no 100% success rate for any Doctor, a diagnosis can change based on further tests or second opinion. You are as much responsible for your own body and health as your Doctor is, they will do their job in aiding your health, but you should do the same.

–       Know your rights.

I, as have many others, have experienced problems with Doctors who are reluctant to make referrals or give prescriptions, and instead of having a “better safe than sorry” attitude have an “it’s probably not that” attitude. Well, would you rather a suspicious lump shown up in an ultrasound not be tested further because it “probably” isn’t cancer, would save some funding and the GP’s precious time?

No, it is better to test again to get a clearer picture and confirm that it is definitely rather than “probably” not cancer. The most recent story pertaining to this issue was this article about a lady whose husband could have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s much sooner. The Daily Mail is awful of course, but I found the story interesting.

This BMJ article ‘A horse or a zebra?’ describes a medical student who diagnosed himself correctly, but was told by the GP that this diagnosis was unlikely and would not refer him for testing. This is why sometimes insisting, and knowing your rights, can help you reach a positive outcome quicker, you have to stand up for your health.

Prevention is always better than cure, the funding used on tests to aid early diagnosis, vaccinations, and necessary prescriptions save money in the long-term, and can result in less long-term or chronic conditions that require lifelong medications or treatments.

–       Know when to call NHS Direct instead of an ambulance or going to A&E.

I have heard laughable stories of Continue reading

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The rising cost of Smoking

An anti-smoking message painted on a pedestria...

An anti-smoking message painted on a pedestrian crossing in the Orchard Road area in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The price of cigarettes is set to rise again, and while I support anti-smoking and awareness campaigns, I remain dubious that the prices will really put that many people off. This has been tried before and an addiction is an addiction whatever the price. Smokers already accumulate huge annual spending on their habit, yet this is not usually a sole reason for quitting, and one must want to quit to have the endurance to do so successfully.

My main concern is that smoking has been largely associated with poverty or low-income areas, where countless studies have shown that there are higher rates of smoking and obesity, and has been attributed to the fact junk food is generally cheaper than healthy foods, and a lack of sufficient education/awareness surrounding smoking and nutrition. This is despite research showing there are more smoking support facilities in lower-income areas, perhaps more to suit demand than strategically placed as a preventative measure. Will getting these people to spend more really help them? Would they be discouraged from smoking? Or merely encouraged to spend more on their addiction, and less on something more beneficial such as a decent meal.

Something I feel would have been more beneficial than hiking up the prices is the idea of having more graphic images on the packets. The proposed images include that of a smoker’s corpse in the morgue, which is of course extreme and controversial, hence this idea was rejected by the court as a violation of the consumer’s rights. But I happen to think that it is a consumer’s rights to know and see fully the reality of what they are buying into, doing to themselves, and what effect it will undoubtedly (not “maybe”) have on their body, it is not a lucky dip with which smoker doesn’t develop cancer, because regardless of cancer, all smokers will detriment and reduce their health and breathing capacity significantly. And rather than the packets saying “Smoking can kill you”, a more accurate summary would be “Smoking will kill you, sooner or later*” with the small-print “*Unless you get hit by a bus first”.

I’m also in full support of the idea discussed a while back in a BMJ article that postmortem/autopsy certificates should have a cause of death label ‘Smoking’, rather than just merely ‘lung cancer’ or similar, as some people develop these with no self-induced cause. It is already undeniable that smoking is the top cause of preventable death. So I leave you with that theme: prevention.

Smoking is preventable, as is the burden it has on the NHS, and the unavoidable health detriments it has on every smoker. Prevention is always better than cure, so I am not against the rising prices, but I am dubious as to its effectiveness on the socioeconomic groups they should be helping the most.

Smoking around your children is a form of abuse

If this subject offends you, feel free to ignore. But regardless of passive smoking, children’s attitudes to their parents smoking exist and shouldn’t be ignored, a good article I read in December 2011 is here. Attitudes to smoking are changing, let’s hope this continues. The way I see it is simple; if one person in a room has a drink it does not get everyone else in the room drunk, but if a smoker lights up a cigarette everyone in that room is forced to smoke it. And for those who argue ‘they are free to leave the room,’ what if it is a child in their own home? A seven year old child can’t very well pack their bags and leave home to avoid it, in fact they would have built up some unknowing level of addiction themselves from inhaling multiple packs per year. Second hand smoke in a room can contain enough toxic chemicals to equate to 10 cigarettes.

Yet there’s this attitude some smokers have: “I’m not addicted I can quit anytime I want” or “passive smoking can’t be that harmful or they wouldn’t survive past 50 or 60” or even “It won’t happen to me, I won’t get the big C word,” the ‘C’ being Cancer of course, and a level of naivety suggesting that some believe the only risk of smoking is lung cancer or dying young. It is true that not every smoker will develop cancer or die young, but every smoker will develop nicotine addiction and detriment their health, there are no exceptions. The only variable is to what extent their health will suffer, and when. You can always tell a long-term smoker from a non-smoker, the coughing, or the way they get out of breath going up stairs, the way it limits them whether they deny it or not. Even an unfit, obese non-smoker who gets out of breath the same way does not have that phlegm-filled rattling breathing of a long-term heavy smoker, though obesity is just as big a problem, and has caused controversy of its own when morbidly obese children overfed by their parents have been temporarily taken into care, returned when a healthy eating plan has been put into place (I am not advocating this, just mentioning its relevance.)

We can no longer claim complete ignorance; images of blackened lungs adorn our cigarette packets, and we are not sold the supposition that ‘smoking is good for your health’, you will have whiter teeth, be more sexy or sophisticated, this type of advertisement was abolished, and goes beyond the irony of the Marlboro man dying from lung cancer.

But I’m getting ahead of myself; this post is not to preach anti-smoking, just anti-smoking around your children. I know many smokers who have the decency and sense to smoke outside so that their children or partners are not forced to inhale it, and especially not in an enclosed space like a car. Yet in the area I live in I am confronted by all sorts of shocking images: pregnant mothers-to-be walking down the street casually smoking, fathers walking with their young children shrouded in a cloud of their smoke, and parents kneeling to check on their infant in the pram, exhaling their cigarette smoke right in their child’s face. This sickens me beyond words.

Smoke as much as you want, it’s a free world, but don’t subject your child to it before they’re old enough to decide to avoid it or take it up themselves. In other words, when your ‘human rights’ impede on your child’s in a way that damages their physical wellbeing it is simply wrong. It is not just your own health you are risking, it is theirs, and there is no ‘maybe’ or ‘but…’ about it, this is not some debateable philosophical question, it is the cold hard facts of scientific research into smoking which we are privileged to be in possession of. My sympathy is with the people of the past who were lied to by advertisements, tricked into smoking without the health facts and unable to make an informed choice, and with the children of our current generation still forced to be non-consensual smokers.

Even if your non-consensual (passive) smoker child does not develop a life threatening or long-term condition such as cancer, bronchitis, asthma, or infection, they will develop some level of addiction and a higher risk of taking up smoking later in life, and why risk it? As parent or guardian to your child these are the type of the risks and dangers your child deserves to be protected from, not have inflicted upon them.

It is not debateable or deniable that smoking harms your health (to whatever extent), it is therefore not deniable that smoking around your children is an abusive risk to their health undertaken by an adult responsible for protecting their children from harm.

This is not meant to be an eloquent, witty or controversial piece of writing, it is a rant. Rant over.

NHS: Let Them Eat Cake! [Latest Health News in Brief]

NHS Reform. The NHS has its flaws but if you privatise it you are essentially minimising patient care but maximising corporate competition. This belittles the principles of Medicine and healthcare, making it all about profit, money and marketing, rather than caring for people. The only people who win in a Privatised and essentially fragmented NHS are the companies that compete for a stand in Healthcare, whose products and service are not the best but cost the private sector less.

Privatising the NHS is essentially saying “Let them eat cake!” In Marie Antoinette’s world, sure, let the patients eat cake when what they really need is quality healthcare.

I agree with assisted suicide; euthanasia is the kindest gift to offer someone who is in the most extreme circumstance, without any quality of life, and with great suffering. Zürich has voted similarly: click to see news story.

Social networking has become more than just social, it is used in Medical schools, some of which in the UK give out smart-phones to students so that they can carry digital textbooks. There are many pros, but I wonder about the cons; for example, will it deter students from being intuitive or self-sufficient if they rely upon a mobile device for the answers to a correct dosage, will it bias the diagnostic process?

Twitter ‘vital’ link to patients, say doctors in Japan: Click   

Lines between plastic surgery and beauty treatments are diminished, but what by? I believe it is the easier access to cosmetic surgeries and procedures which make them less taboo, more easily attainable and therefore more likely that someone will be inclined towards them (the sheep effect; everyone else is doing it so why not you?). Click here for details.

Obese pregnant women are being given Metformin, usually for diabetics, to reduce the risk of obesity in their babies.

Casualty fan saves baby’s life with skills learned from show:http://tinyurl.com/5ux23q4

Monkey HIV vaccine ‘effective’ I really hope this can give us some insight into a way to cure human HIV victims, and yes I say victims because no one chooses to have HIV/AIDs, however they contract it. I remain dubious, because many ‘cures’, or proposed ones, have been and gone. I’m just glad the research continues, and we’ve gotten so far with extending the lives of HIV victims, delaying full AIDs.

Doctors want a decision on the NHS, but the wrong choice could cause further disarray. Personally I am opposed to the NHS reform, but I wanted to hear the other side of the argument so I went to the Royal Society of Medicine debate; arguments for the reform revolved around increased efficiency, quality of products and care, as well as time management. However, I’m doubtful of that, increased corporate competition will commodify health, and prioritise profit over care.

How Superbugs attack; The research carried out at BMC Systems Biology discovered genes responsible for MRSA‘s grown resistance to the Methicillin antibiotic. As a type of Staphylococcus aureus, it is of interest to my upcoming lab project, where I will measure the rate of growth in bacterial resistance. A toxin taken from the skin of a bullfrog has proven effective in destroying MRSA.

Call an ambulance

Apologies to people I am subscribed to, and those in my blogroll, I simply haven’t had any time to read as much or comment lately, let alone write any lengthy posts for my own blog.

What’s my excuse? As well as the huge dissertation article, separate project, double modules at university, commuting to London, and continuous research in my “spare time”, I also work as a carer. The timetable has filled up this week, I’m no longer under mentoring.

Ms Anonymous, a new care receiver I met today, seemed well and able, apart from having a poor memory (I had to remind her each time she asked what time lunch was, and that she had already had breakfast). But, as I and another girl (who does not work for the same care branch as I) were preparing lunch, we heard an almighty crash. We ran to Ms Anonymous’ bedroom to find her crumpled on the floor. She had tried getting out of bed unassisted, and tripped on her Zimmer frame.

We had to call an ambulance fast, because she said she thinks she had broken her leg. We couldn’t take risks, especially seeing as she had a hip replacement recently, and was hospitalized a long time with an infection also. I made sure we kept her still, but comfortable with pillows, and called her son as well.

The ambulance arrived to pick her up, and I hope she will be alright once out of hospital. That’s all I will write for now, it’s important to keep track of these things. Am heading out later for an evening appointment with a different care receiver, hopefully they are faring well, it’s a shame when bad things happen.

A young male cat

Image via Wikipedia

On a brighter note, I saw a very cute cat today who kept me company when I was waiting out in the cold.

Life as a Care Giver

Auguste Deter. Alois Alzheimer's patient in No...

Image via Wikipedia

Firstly, I haven’t been doing this long. But I spent the past few months completing my training, with certificates in First Aid, Health & Safety, Movement & Handling etc. Then I began my mentoring, so I am still not “flying solo”, but I learn from watching/helping the people whom have been carers for much longer.

Today I felt choked up, it was my first time at Mrs Anonymous’s house (Patient confidentiality of course). She has Multiple Sclerosis, and paralysis on one side, meaning she is wheelchair bound and can only use one arm. Not to mention the fact she is 90-something years old, with severe arthritis that curls her toes and fingers into gnarled roots. The discomfort she is constantly in is little eased by medications and prescription creams.

She lives completely alone, with no pets. Pays for her own care, rather than accepting benefits, so perhaps she had a wealthy past. The radio is her friend once we serve her meal and say goodbye, leaving a cup of Earl Grey in the microwave for her like she instructs. She is meticulous, extremely specific in what she wants, even where you place her hairbrush, because this is the only control or power she has left. It’s heartbreaking. Reminds me of my grandmother somewhat, which was the main reason I wanted to do senior care, except my grandmother has Alzheimer’s, and this lady, Mrs Anonymous, seems mentally sharp despite the M.S. But isn’t that the worst part? To be mentally alert but trapped in a crippled body, like a butterfly with broken wings.

Why am I writing this post? I guess I just wanted to give you a glimpse into what caring is really about, and would ask anyone whose grandparents are still alive, to please visit them, take care of them. No one should have to be alone like Mrs Anonymous.

Medical Education Online

 

Image representing LiveJournal as depicted in ...

Image via CrunchBase

 

One more old snippet from my LiveJournal:

  • Apr. 5th, 2010 at 8:06 PM

Interesting medical essays HTML:

Effects of Internet Use on Health and Depression: A Longitudinal Study:

http://www.jmir.org/2010/1/e6/HTML

Learning in a Virtual World: Experience With Using Second Life for Medical Education:

http://www.jmir.org/2010/1/e1/HTML

Aloe can help survival during severe blood loss?

Heart diagram with labels in English. Blue com...

Image via Wikipedia

Just found one of my older LiveJournal posts, it was just a DRAFT of thoughts:

Jan. 16th, 2010 at 6:41 PM

Aloe can help survival during severe blood loss?
www.nationalreviewofmedicine.com/issue/2004_09_15/clinical11_16.html

I initially searched into this mainly because I was wondering whether panic/increased heart rate sped up blood flow (and therefore blood loss), (and therefore one’s demise), OR, does the quickened blood flow aid the situation, seeing as the heart’s natural response to blood loss is to speed up and release adrenaline as a reaction to lower available oxygen and/or volume of blood itself. Does speeding up of heart rate and blood flow enable the remaining oxygen to be distributed in a way that attempts to simulate the regular amounts.

It is mentioned that aloe increases circulation, and the rats that were injected with it during severe blood loss lived longer than rats that were injected with regular saline. However, the improved circulatory function does pose the risk of obstructing coagulation. Therefore aloe could be useful to prolong a patient’s life, whilst further treatment/aid/procedures are taken to stem the blood flow, or a transfusion is made.

So, is the natural rush of adrenaline, which is automatic in the situation of severe blood loss, helpful? Or is it an inevitable symptom, induced by hemorrhagic shock, which essentially speeds up one’s demise?

Heightened heart rate and blood flow BUT lower blood pressure.

Heightened
blood flow but lower oxygen and blood volume.

If the heart slowed dramatically rather than speeding dramatically once heavy blood loss is induced, the lowered blood pressure would have an intensified impact…therefore it could be theorised that the over-compensation the heart makes in speeding faster is an attempt to normalise the body and pump oxygen to the parts that need it most.

HOWEVER, with wounds, such as those on major arteries, like the jugular, the heavier blood flow would result in a quicker death.

(Original post can be seen here: LiveJournal)

Are you sick?

Music at Camden Market [I love London]

Image by sara.musico via Flickr

Well, so are the rest of us. Everyone seems to be ill at the moment. My cure this weekend has been lots of alcohol, going to Camden with my boyfriend, and sleazy rock’n’roll. I’m exhausted, moderately down, and dreading my upcoming clinical aptitude exam. This week is going to be one tough week of study study study. But nothing I can do will take away the feeling of uselessness and nerves wracked up like badly mixed drugs in my veins. I’ll most likely delete this post before the day is done.

Doctors and dentists with HIV/AIDs

Abacavir - a nucleoside analog reverse transcr...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s something I’ve looked into before, but I found an interesting article tonight:

Click here to see

I have deep sympathy for anyone that contracts the disease, but particularly those who simply could not prevent it; rape victims, babies born with it, etc. What makes matters more complex is when someone within Healthcare has this disease. As stated in the article I linked, there are regulations on declaring positive test results, and prohibitions when it comes to surgeries, sutures, and any situation that may pose a risk of transmission.

In short, it is not legal to fire a doctor or dentist for having HIV or AIDs, but their career is effectively over nonetheless. What a terrible thing for them, to have gone through so much schooling and hardship only to be brought down by a disease. In any other walk of life they may continue relatively as normal; because improved medication generally means a higher quality of life, and the delay of full-blown AIDs stemming from testing HIV positive.

But it is necessary, for others safety, that transmission risks are minimised. I must admit I would prefer to be treated by a doctor or dentist whom was not HIV positive, and it would be nothing against the person. A disease shouldn’t dehumanise anyone. I just know that if I were HIV positive I would never want to risk infecting others, and would certainly never want anyone to infect me either.

The best thing anyone can do is protect others, ourselves, and encourage the progression of medical research.

End of my boring rant.