Health & Medicine

A neoteric’s view

As the world battles with localised CoVID-19 outbreaks, it is now clear that a major source of transmission of infection is no longer from the influx of expatriates nor travellers. CoVID-19 is now a community problem. The politicizing of the pandemic has obfuscated the fact that, in most countries, communities and family groups have been […]

(This blog is the Gordon Reid MacDonald Memorial Lecture which I have been asked to deliver in Edmonton Alberta this month. It is much longer than my usual blogs) If there is one thing that the pandemic has shown us, it is that modern healthcare is undemocratic, antisocial and thus largely unresponsive to its patients’ […]

Absolute risk is the likelihood an event will occur. Relative risk is the likelihood an event will occur in one group compared to another. In CoVID-19 terms, the absolute risk of dying from the disease is low. However, if we look at very old residents of care facilities who have multiple health problems compared with […]

Over the past two decades, three human coronaviruses (SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV, and SARS-CoV-2) have emerged worldwide and there is still no approved vaccine for any of them. Greedy nations race each other in a drug-ridden CoVID Olympics, spending billions to find the gold medal vaccine. Yet we are told the greatest elite performer on earth – […]

A new epidemic has broken out, and it’s not CoVID-19.  The symptoms are an inability to subtract, and a tendency just to add.  It’s sweeping through physicians around the world who, instead of weaning patients off antidepressants, continue to layer on two or even more psychoactive drugs, despite evidence that this strategy is ineffective. Depression […]

Hospitals are full of sick people and not all of them are patients. More and more staff in hospitals are turning up for work that they are unable to do. They are present, but not working at their best, due to the impact of COVID-19 on their health and well-being. Every week there is another […]

Every couple of years a group of experts lowers the level of blood pressure required to diagnose and treat hypertension. On the face of it, the advice seems reasonable: obesity and diabetes are on the increase across the globe and both are related to hypertension and its result, cardiovascular disease. So, dropping the upper limits […]

Hospitals are full of people sick with CoVID but not all of them are patients. More and more staff in our hospitals are turning up for work that they are unable to do. They are present, but not working at their best, either due to their own health problems, increased CoVID-related workload, or CoVID anxiety. […]

CoVID is no longer just a health concern. As clinicians we now understand the disease a little better, are comforted that most cases are mild and self-limiting, and relieved that the intensive care resources are becoming equipped to manage the increase in patient numbers. Even the danger to health care workers of too much exposure […]

What will happen to our healthcare services once the acute phase of CoVID-19 has passed is anyone’s guess. The backlog of non-urgent surgery and medical treatment grows daily as physicians not involved in acute life-threatening care are furloughed and patients are reticent to see clinicians for fear of catching CoVID-19, if their offices are even […]

Even before the CoVID-19 pandemic, more and more people were working remotely. Between 2012 to 2016, the number of people working remotely rose by four percent globally. In the US, 43% of workers spend some of their time working remotely. In countries such as Finland, Japan, Netherlands and Sweden, more than half the population work […]

In times of overwhelming disaster and limited resources, ingenuity and repurposing can save lives.  For example, the use of stapling wounds on the suture-poor battle fields more than a century ago was game changer. It worked because the purpose of a suture and a staple were similar – to hold two opposing surfaces together. Wrap […]

As most of us become as paranoid as Lady Macbeth about handwashing, dodging infected droplet spread of CoVID-19 is equally important. So, let’s talk about sneezing and coughing. To avoid potentially infecting others, hold something you can clean or dispose of safely to sneeze or cough into at all times. Sneezing or coughing into your […]

CoVID-19 is all about lungs and breathing. As the infection increases in seriousness so the need for breathing assistance becomes greater. Critical and intensive care units (ICUs) provide the optimal support for these life-threatening breathing problems. But are they ready for the expected surge in cases? There will never be enough ICU beds. Overall, critical […]

Global travel no doubt contributes to polluting our planet, but is it really responsible for the spontaneous outbreaks of CoVID-19 (coronavirus) occurring around the world? The recent outbreak in Italy, which has not been linked to any human carrier, makes me wonder. It is time to look into transmission beyond human-to-human. Granted we humans are […]

Doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals have a long history of wearing face masks in clinical environments, but I’ve never seen a person in scrubs walking down the street in a face mask.  That look is generally reserved to  tourists, particularly from Japan and China, who wear masks as they see the sights. Surgical […]

My stethoscope is more than half my age and every year it gets proportionally closer to my age. It doesn’t have an expiration date and works just fine. In fact, not everything in medicine has a short expiration date or is consumable. Despite that, the traditional economy of healthcare is largely disposable. Healthcare materials are taken […]

My favorite smartphone word game app now tells me it can improve my memory and potentially prevent my dementia. This is a remarkable advance and a larger incentive to keep playing than just giving me points and emoticons. If only it were true. Unfortunately, mental ill health is quite complex and chronic, and the treatments […]

In the Western world, the festive season is in full swing and our focus remains on food and drink – most of which is not produced locally. Despite our best intentions, our plates around this time of year are crammed with highly refined cheap foods distributed by a small number of producers. Ten food processors […]

Every year around this time lettuce gets bad press. Since 1995 there have been 35 outbreaks of E coli infections related to leafy greens. Last year it was cos lettuce. This year it’s romaine. The problem isn’t with the humble leaf, after all, it is nearly all water,  It’s the water that’s the problem. The […]