SO much absurdity, so few column inches. Welcome back to Diary where we ask for interesting and entertaining medical anecdotes from our readers, get nothing in reply and so make up our own. But let us not be bitter...
I HAVE AN APP FOR THAT News that the Department of Health could soon be directing GPs to “prescribe” patient apps had Diary struggling not to swallow its own scepticism much like a bottle-fed baby does air. At a recent event held to showcase the best ideas for new and existing health smartphone apps, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: “So many people use apps every day to keep up with their friends, with the news, find out when the next bus will turn up or which train to catch. I want to make using apps to track blood pressure, to find the nearest source of support when you need it and to get practical help in staying healthy the norm.” Sounds like much more fun than Ragdoll Blaster 2.
TO BOLDLY GO… Perhaps more useful than a smartphone app playing Stayin’ Alive to time CPR compressions would be a bleeping Star-Trek-like tricorder allowing GPs to scan patients, record vital signs and diagnose diseases. If only the DoH could promise that. Enter the Qualcomm Foundation which is sponsoring a contest to come up with a similar type device. Using wireless sensors, imaging technologies and other portable non-invasive technologies the winning tricorder must capture key health data used to diagnose a set of 15 diseases. But you only have until 2014 to claim the £6.5 million prize.
RESEARCH WORTH A PUNCHLINE A review that was recently published in Clinical Ophthalmology looked at ocular injuries recorded between 2000 and 2002 in the Home and Leisure Accident Surveillance System. Some 1,640 incidents involving writing implements were reported and yet not a single one caused by fencing foils or similar weapons (even toys) – thus proving, the authors conclude, that when it comes to eye trauma the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.
DOCTOR, DOCTOR Do you have a favourite Doctor, Doctor gag? Send it to us at email@example.com. And just to get the ball rolling – Patient: Doctor, doctor. I feel like a moth. Doctor: You should see a psychologist. Patient: I was on my way there but I noticed your light was on.
STENCH OF BETRAYAL More interesting research to ponder – this time published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. A study in Russia has shown that men with sexually transmitted diseases could be undone by their body odour. Researchers asked women to smell sweat gathered from the armpits of a cadre of men age 17-25 of whom just under half were infected with Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The women consistently rated the sweat of infected men as more unpleasant. Send any practical applications via postcard.
AND THE OSCAR FOR BEST SICKNESS PERFORMANCE GOES TO… Implausible news emerges of a scheme designed to lighten the load of GPs burdened by fit notes. The Allied Health Professionals Federation suggests members including drama therapists, art therapists and physiotherapists could start issuing assessment certificates directly to employers and patients. The plans have been hatched following consultation with the Department of Health and the Department of Work and Pensions. The independent assessments would not replace the Med3, which GPs will still be required to issue in order for patients to claim state benefits. The form will, however, state whether patients are ‘not fit for work’ or ‘may be fit for work’ if certain advice is followed. This can be used as evidence for sick pay or it can be presented to GPs who can “cut and paste it” into a fit note, thus saving time.
A LESSON FROM THE BARD Reading Shakespeare could give physicians a fresh insight into the links between emotion and illness, says retired doctor Kenneth Heaton. According to a BBC report, he believes the Bard’s many descriptions of psychological illnesses could help modern medics diagnose conditions linked to emotional disturbance.
NO PREVIOUS HISTORY OF SUICIDES Not to pick on medical secretaries – goodness knows they have a hard enough job. But in a random surf of medical-related guff, Diary came across a collection of notes allegedly entered by NHS secretaries in Glasgow. Here are but a few:
“The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.”
“Rectal examination revealed a normal size thyroid.”
“She is numb from her toes down.”
“Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.”
“The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.”
“Skin: somewhat pale, but present.”
“Large brown stool ambulating in the hall.”
“The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.”
“When she fainted, her eyes rolled around the room.”
“The patient was in his usual state of good health until his airplane ran out of fuel and crashed.”
“Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.”
“The patient had no previous history of suicides.”