The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'medicine'
In the UK, homeopathy has, until now, been funded by the National Health Service. All of this may change soon, though; a parliamentary committee has delivered a scathing condemnation of homeopathy, and called for all NHS funding to be withdrawn and homeopathic practices to be subjected to the same licensing and regulation as actual effective medical treatments are.
This should come as no surprise to anyone who witnessed the almost farcical nature of the proceedings, with the elite of homeopathy mocked by their own testimony. Peter Fisher, director of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, spewed forth the sort of dialogue that wouldn't look out of place in a Terry Pratchett novel ... The select committee report has brutally inflicted the 21st, 20th and 19th centuries on this 18th century magic ritual, and under inspection it has fallen apart.
Sadly, the criticism is likely to fall on deaf ears. Rather than take the opportunity to reassess their approach, homeopaths are filling blogs and tweets with dark imaginings of vast, Big Pharma-controlled conspiracies against their noble art, painting a vivid picture of the fantasy world that they appear to inhabit. Of course, as Peter Fisher's comments reveal, a grand conspiracy is not neccesary to discredit homeopathy. The most effective way to do that is simply to let a homeopath speak.The report is linked to from here, and doesn't mince words. Prince Charles, an avid supporter of fusty anachronisms including homeopathy, could not be reached for comment.
Among the latest additions to the often irreverent slang used by doctors, as tracked by the British Medical Journal: a "Hasselhoff" is a patient who turns up in casualty "with an injury with a bizarre explanation", a Jack Bauer is a doctor who is still working after 24 hours on the job, and a Father Jack is a "confused, usually elderly patient whose constant high-pitched verbal ejaculation and attempts to get out of bed are responsible for insomnia on wards".
A recent study into the healing power of prayer (conducted in the US, where such things are an important issue to enough people to justify such studies) has found, surprisingly enough, that praying for someone doesn't appear to help them recover. Even more strangely, of the 1,802 patients in the study, those who were prayed for did slightly worse than those who weren't:
Among the first group -- who were prayed for but only told they might be -- 52 percent had post-surgical complications compared to 51 percent in the second group, the ones who were not prayed for though told they might be. In the third group, who knew they were being prayed for, 59 percent had complications.
"Intercessory prayer itself had no effect on whether complications occurred (and) patients who were certain that intercessors would pray for them had a higher rate of complications than patients who were uncertain but did receive intercessory prayer," the study said.
There is "no clear explanation" for the latter finding, it added.The moral of this story is: if someone you care about is fighting for their life, for God's sake, don't pray for them. Or perhaps it isn't.
Life imitates Christopher Brookmyre novels: a nurse in Britain is on trial for being somewhat overzealous in tackling the bed-blocker problem, to the extent of attempting to hasten several patients' journey through death's door. In her efficiency drive, Barbara Salisbury is alleged to have given patients overdoses of diamorphine and withdrawn their oxygen supplies.
Salisbury, who was described by the prosecution as an experienced, capable and efficient nurse, is accused of attempting to murder Frances May Taylor, 88, in March 2002 in that she inappropriately administered diamorphine using the syringe pump, telling a colleague: "Why prolong the inevitable."
She is accused of attempting, 10 days later, to murder Frank Owen, 92, by instructing another member of nursing staff to lay Mr Owen on his back, allegedly adding: "With any luck his lungs will fill with fluid and he will die."
I wonder whether (assuming that the charges are true, of course) she was acting out of a personal cruel streak, or whether this is merely the most extreme manifestation of an institutional focus on patient turnover in the Thatcherite/Blairite health system in Britain (as was the plot of Brookmyre's Quite Ugly One Morning; though, granted, Brookmyre seems to write from a Scottish-socialist point of view).
Britain's 240,000 junkies will soon be able to get heroin on the National Health.
The World's Oldest Multinational Corporation: Speaking of unswerving religious sanctions, Pope John Paul II has instructed Catholic lawyers to refuse divorce cases. How binding is his decree? Are Catholics still absolutely required to subordinate their consciences to the Church in all matters or face excommunication?
(This reminds me of how the Catholic church has been taking over hospitals, often dominating entire regional markets, and eliminating services which the Vatican doesn't approve of, for patients of all cultural persuasions.)
Covering all bases: One of the world's largest tobacco companies is poised to get exclusive rights to market future lung cancer vaccines, a move which could net it billions of dollars.
The wonders of modern science: A surgeon in the U.S., working on a pain relief operation, unwittingly developed a female orgasm implant. The device will implant in the skin under the patient's buttocks and be triggered by a remote control. Somewhat invasive, but no more than breast implants or cosmetic surgery. Expect it to be a big hit.