Friday, December 8, 2017

Anorexia Nervosa: Let Her Die!



A reprint:



©Am Ang Zhang 2014

Can a patient be allowed to die? 
Can a seventeen year old patient be allowed to die?
Can a seventeen year old Anorexia Nervosa patient be allowed to die?

Are we not supposed to save lives?

Could doctors be held to ransom? By?

Here is a Play: Let Her Die!

The Players:

The parents:
Father used to run a business security agency specialising in industrial counter espionage. Or was it espionage? I cannot be sure.

Too often there is this bizarre desire by some parents to make sure that if they cannot do it, no one else should either. We need to recognise it early enough. We are doomed otherwise, and so is the patient.

The patient: Nicola
It was really quite painful to sit there and talk to someone who looked worse than the worst they showed from Auswitz. Why could Nicola not realise that if she wanted any man to like her she would need to look a lot better, which involved doubling her weight for starters.

The Doctors:
Dr Hillman:

This was a family given up even by Dr Hillman, my most fervent supporter of family therapy. Father used to run a business security agency specialising in industrial counter espionage. Or was it espionage? I cannot be sure.

The Consultant:
        I did not go round looking like a hippie or pretending that I liked the music the teenagers listened to. I told them to me it was trash. I did not pierce my ear or have a tattoo. I certainly did not wear trainers to work.
       
        In short, you do not have to gain respect by becoming like them or worse, by pretending that you are like them.

The Experts:
I spent one session with them and agreed with Dr Hillman. They were good. We looked like a bunch of amateurs dealing with professionals. None of the family therapy tricks work, Minuchin or Haley.
        Impenetrable!

The NHS Trust & GMC

To me, suspension on full pay is a risk every doctor takes nowadays, as the basis is no longer limited to bad practice. It is no longer a reflection on whether you are good or bad clinically. Many psychiatrists are no longer prepared to use techniques that might upset their patients or parents of their patients.

The Main Action:

A family meeting was called and it lasted only a few minutes.
          I was in top form.

          “Nicola has been eating but after two months has not put on any weight. I cannot see any reason for her to continue to stay here. She might as well do the eating at home. She can then sort out for herself why she is not gaining weight without the pressure from us.”
          I tried to put it in the calmest way possible.
          “You mean you will let her die?” Father sounded a bit annoyed.

        With that father got up and left the room without saying another word.

          “What do I do now? You have upset him!” said mother.
          Good, something got to him at last, but I did not say it.
         
Nicola gave a wry smile to me as if to say, “You found me out.”
          She turned to mum, “Let’s pack and leave this dump.”
          We all kept still.
         
Six months later, one of the nurses bumped into Nicola in a nearby town. She was kicked out by father and moved in with another ex-anorectic. She was with a boy friend. More importantly she was wearing a very sexy dress to show off her then very good figure.
          She did not die.

                                           Based on an extract from my book The Cockroach Catcher

The Cockroach Catcher on Amazon Kindle UKAmazon Kindle US

2 comments:

Dr No said...
CC - Dr No rather suspected that if you didn't turn up and comment on badmed, then you were probably doing a post of your own!

Dr No reads the moral of your post as less is more, ie the more doctors try to control patients (admission, section, forced feeding), the more the patient resists. Do the opposite (patient can go home, even die if the want to) and the patient still resists - in Nicola's case by gaining weight...even if she did do so rather rapidly...and, of course, having a spook for a dad is enough to put anyone on edge...

E's case (the one recently in the news) is very different. She was almost twice N's age, very different family by the sound of things, significant co-morbdities and a long history of failed forced feeding attempts (albeit with one early success). She was, if such a concept is meaningful, in end-stage anorexia nervosa.

Can a patient be allowed to die? Yes - we do it all the time.

Can a seventeen year old patient be allowed to die? Yes - we reluctantly and with great sadness do it from time to time.

Can a seventeen year old Anorexia Nervosa patient be allowed to die? Not if we can possibly help it. But anorexia nervosa is truly pernicious illness, and sometimes it defeats us all - although usually a bit later in the patient's life.

Would Dr No have discharged Nicola as you did? Almost certainly, and probably for the same reasons! 
Cockroach Catcher said...
It is perhaps The Cockroach Catcher's own experience with young Anorexia Nervosa Patients that has coloured his views. There is in him a genuine feeling that doctors should be allowed to doctor pure and simple and in that sense he feels that psychiatrists should be doctors too, real doctors.

Remember the early days of treating phobia when bus loads of phobic patient from none other than the Maudsley were taken to Piccadilly Circus and dumped there. It was known as implosion therapy. then later suicidal patients were given the sharpest razor blades so that they can get on with it.

In Psychiatry, the best treatment is without doubt Placebos. But placebos only works if neither the patient nor the parents knew.

In reading DN's blog I reposted my patient where I let her die.

Well, did I or was that part of Haley/Minuchin treatment? You can decide.

No the early day psychiatrists did not mean harm to come to the Picadilly or Razor patients, but when non-doctors are involved, good luck to the said patients.

Perhaps DN;s patients was of Millennium Trilogy quality and ooops, what was the state doing?

Please let the real doctors or better still the real psychiatrist get on with their real work, if only they are allowed to remember how to give all the guidelines floating around.

The Cockroach Catcher retired partly because he sensed he would not be allowed to carry on his own doctoring ways. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

ADHD & Bipolar Disorder: Cambodia & God!


“Full professor,” he answered.
“What’s after that?” asked a lawyer, Fletch Trammell.
“God,” Dr. Biederman responded.
“Did you say God?” Mr. Trammell asked.
“Yeah,” Dr. Biederman said.


The San Francisco Chronicle 
March 27,2009
“Dr Biederman appears to be promising drugmaker Johnson & Johnson in advance that his studies on the antipsychotic drug risperidone will prove the drug to be effective when used on preschool age children.”
And we do not have to wait for an eclipse. Wow! I have to declare that I have heard him at a conference and I reported this in a previous blog: Bipolar and ADHD: Boys and Breasts.

The San Francisco Chronicle article continues:


“Biederman's status at Harvard and his research have arguably made him, until recently, America's most powerful doctor in child psychiatry. Biederman has strongly pushed treating children's mental illnesses with powerful antipsychotic medicines. Diagnoses like ADHD and pediatric bipolar disorder, along with psychiatric drug use in American children, have soared in the last 15 years. No other country medicates children as frequently.”

No other country medicates children as frequently!
“Reports from court actions, along with an ongoing investigation of conflict of interest charges led by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, threaten to topple Biederman from his heretofore untouchable Olympian heights. Biederman has cried foul.”

“He says the drug company dollars (declared and undeclared) have not influenced him or his research. He had agreed temporarily to sever most of his financial ties with the drug industry pending the outcome of the ongoing inquiry.

“He claims his science and publications are pure, supported by a peer-review system that is supposed to verify accuracy and authenticity. Finally, he challenges as office gossip reports of his legendary anger and intolerance of those who disagree or don't support his proposals.”

In 
The New York Times:

"In a contentious Feb. 26 deposition between Dr. Biederman and lawyers for the states, he was asked what rank he held at Harvard. 


“Full professor,” he answered.
“What’s after that?” asked a lawyer, Fletch Trammell.
“God,” Dr. Biederman responded.
“Did you say God?” Mr. Trammell asked.
“Yeah,” Dr. Biederman said.




Over the last ten years or so, I kept meeting friends in the U.S. whose children seemed to progress from one psychiatric diagnosis to another with frightening regularity, the most common being from ADHD to Bipolar. One grandmother recently asked me what I thought of Bipolar illness in children.

“Well my grandson of five has just been diagnosed. To me he is just an imaginative bright young thing and I never really had any problems with him when he spent part of the school holidays with me. But now he is on all these medications……” she told me.

Her own husband is a physician and her son is a dentist.

Stimulant Use:PBS

According to the United Nations, the U.S. produces and consumes about 85 percent of the world's methylphenidate.


The DEA also tracks Schedule II controlled substances from the point of manufacture to the point of distribution to the consumer. This data reveals that there is wide variation in the levels of use of methylphenidate and amphetamine from state to state, and even among communities within states. This implies that there may be both under-prescription and over-prescription of medication for ADHD across the U.S., depending on the community.

The top five ranking states in 1999 for methylphenidate and amphetamine use were: New Hampshire (5,525 grams per 100,000 population); Vermont (5,005); Michigan (4,848); Iowa (4,638); and Delaware (4,439). The lowest ranking states for use of methylphenidate were California (1,748) and Hawaii (1,208). For amphetamine, the lowest ranking were New York (509) and Hawaii (305).

The average per capita use of methylphenidate across the United State was 3,082 grams per 100,000 population; for amphetamine it was 1,060 per 100,000.


An American Tragedy Worsens: Huffington Post


 To make matters worse, on Oct. 16, 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics overrode the FDA and recommended that children as young as age four be diagnosed with ADHD and given the stimulant methylphenidate (e.g., Ritalin, Metadate, Focalin, Daytrana and Concerta).

The scientific literature actually shows that 50 percent or more of children this young when given Ritalin, Focalin, Dexedrine, Adderall and other stimulants will become obviously depressed, lethargic, weepy -- but more manageable. Moreover, it's been proven time and again that the stimulants stunt their growth. In addition, studies show that stimulants will permanently change their brain chemistry, cause shrinkage of brain tissue, predispose children to cocaine addiction in young adulthood, stigmatize them with a false diagnosis and push them toward becoming permanent consumers of psychiatric drugs.


In the New York Times, the headline reads:Child’s Ordeal Shows Risks of Psychosis Drugs for Young

Chris Bickford September 1, 2010

At 18 months, Kyle Warren started taking a daily antipsychotic drug on the orders of a pediatrician trying to quell the boy’s severe temper tantrums.

Thus began a troubled toddler’s journey from one doctor to another, from one diagnosis to another, involving even more drugs. 

Diagnosis:

Autism, bipolar disorder, ADHD, insomnia, oppositional defiant disorder.

The boy’s daily pill regimen multiplied: the antipsychotic Risperdal, the antidepressant Prozac, two sleeping medicines and one for attention-deficit disorder. All by the time he was 3.

He was sedated, drooling and overweight from the side effects of the antipsychotic medicine. ……Mother: “I didn’t have my son. It’s like, you’d look into his eyes and you would just see just blankness.”

A Columbia University study recently found a doubling of the rate of prescribing antipsychotic drugs for privately insured 2- to 5-year-olds from 2000 to 2007. Only 40 percent of them had received a proper mental health assessment, violating practice standards from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

No risk of medication for the Cambodian children© 2009 Am Ang Zhang

From my previous post:

“A world-renowned Harvard child psychiatrist whose work has helped fuel an explosion in the use of powerful antipsychotic medicines in children earned at least $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug makers from 2000 to 2007 but for years did not report much of this income to university officials, according to information given Congressional investigators.”

Who is the psychiatrist?

“By failing to report income, the psychiatrist, Dr. Joseph Biederman, and a colleague in the psychiatry department at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Timothy E. Wilens, may have violated federal and university research rules designed to police potential conflicts of interest, according to Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa. Some of their research is financed by government grants.”

It was Dr Biederman’s presentation I heard at the conference I mentioned earlier. This is interesting!

“Like Dr. Biederman, Dr. Wilens belatedly reported earning at least $1.6 million from 2000 to 2007, and another Harvard colleague, Dr. Thomas Spencer, reported earning at least $1 million after being pressed by Mr. Grassley’s investigators.”
The New York Times was quick to point out that these figures were most likely an under-estimate.
“Dr. Biederman is one of the most influential researchers in child psychiatry and is widely admired for focusing the field’s attention on its most troubled young patients. Although many of his studies are small and often financed by drug makers, his work helped to fuel a controversial 40-fold increase from 1994 to 2003 in the diagnosis of paediatric bipolar disorder, which is characterized by severe mood swings, and a rapid rise in the use of antipsychotic medicines in children. The Grassley investigation did not address research quality…..

In the past decade, Dr. Biederman and his colleagues have promoted the aggressive diagnosis and drug treatment of childhood bipolar disorder, a mood problem once thought confined to adults. They have maintained that the disorder was under-diagnosed in children and could be treated with antipsychotic drugs, medications invented to treat schizophrenia….

Doctors have known for years that antipsychotic drugs, sometimes called major tranquilizers, can quickly subdue children. But youngsters appear to be especially susceptible to the weight gain and metabolic problems caused by the drugs, and it is far from clear that the medications improve children’s lives over time, experts say.
What is the number of children involved?

“Some 500,000 children and teenagers were given at least one prescription for an antipsychotic in 2007, including 20,500 under 6 years of age, according to Medco Health Solutions, a pharmacy benefit manager.” 

This is why I have always argued that reports from parents, teachers and children cannot entirely replace direct clinical observation.

“More broadly, they said, revelations of undisclosed payments from drug makers to leading researchers are especially damaging for psychiatry.”

Money corrupts.





Related Posts: 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Uluru & NHS: Killings or Savings?

Now! It is quite simple really!!!                                                                                                                                   


It is very much like  giving children the mortgage and meal money and that they buy primarily from mother, food, washing and accommodation. But then, there is no restriction on buying food from AQPs: other mothers, fish & chip shops, supermarkets and even McDonalds. What if the children sleep over at friends: is rent deducted.

They just cannot see it, can they?

  ©Am Ang Zhang 2013
It is indeed very sad to see how modern perverse incentives that were used in other institutions were used in our NHS hospitals in one part of the United KingdomEngland.

The figures are there for all to see and it is hard to believe that the very smart people that are currently running the country did not know.

In the brave new world, English Hospitals (or their managers) need to perversely increase activity to survive (or collect a good bonus before moving on or going off sick). GP Commissioners (CCGs)need to reduce hospital referrals in order to achieve government imposed savings or if it is run by privateers to find profits for shareholders.

Hospitals will fail and be bought up and the privateers will be so smart that they will only run the profitable parts.

Government will be left still running the loss making services or they could be sold out to the likes of Southern Cross .


Attempts to cull hospitals are happening in various guises and sometimes such failed. Fortunately for the government, since Les Misérables, the people may march and wave banners but they don’t do revolutions anymore. So instead of culling and closing A&Es, they downgrade them. It s a bit like, we do stomach pain but not myocardial infarcts.                                                                                                                

I have written before that A&E is the one thing that upset planners, accountants and most importantly the new CCGs. There is a belief, rightly or wrongly that A&Es still have real DOCTORS, and not someone flown in from Germany or further east. Nor are they like OOH or NHS111 where the concern is about money than your survival. As I was drafting this post another hospital is being overwhelmed by high A&E attendances.

What is most worrying is that A&E will lead to more hospital admissions: perhaps unnecessary ones or god forbid, absolutely essential ones.

In the unholy war between CCGs that hold the money and the Hospitals that needed the money patients may either be denied treatments that were needed or perversely given investigations and treatments that were not. 

But wait, they dream up something new: patient must get better or hospitals will not get paid. They called it:

Outcome based commissioning          

So plan B then, from now on admit only well patients. Or those we know that will get better. Just remember that Clinton picked the hospital with poor mortality for his bypassWhy?

So mother is now not going to be paid unless the kids get As.

But, hang on some patient will die; and not every child will get As unless we fine the schools too.

Perhaps that too.

Suddenly, there is going to be some killing and surprise, surprise; it is not what you think: no, not patients. 

That would be too simple.

From the BMJ:
Kill the QOF

The QOF simply hasn’t worked. It is a bureaucratic disaster, measuring the measurable but eroding the all important immeasurable, and squandering our time, effort, and money. It has made patients of us all and turned skilled clinicians into bean counters. Incentives and centralised targets are under scrutiny throughout the public sector because targets just lead to gaming. It’s time to look away from the screen and at the patient once again. Turn off the financial life support and let this failed intervention die.

What happened? £10bn


We are entering the 10th year of the world’s largest public health experiment in EBM—the target driven QOF (Quality and Outcomes Framework). It has cost £10bn in direct payments to general practitioners, but this is just the tip of an expensive iceberg.

From 2004 to 2011 prescriptions for statins doubled, for angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors and diabetic drugs near doubled, for antidepressants rose 60%, and for steroid inhalers rose 30%.  Polypharmacy is the norm not the exception, and research evidence validates this approach.

Statins & others:
Yet statins, for instance, are supposed to reduce heart disease by 30% within a few years. The QOF has created three million new statin users, so why has there been no demonstrable effect on heart disease trends? Also we might reasonably expect within a decade to see a change in the trajectory of UK life expectancy, but we have not. Likewise the QOF was designed to improve chronic disease management in general practice, but instead outpatient referrals have risen 5% annually, with similar rates in acute hospital admissions.

This is leading to unsustainable pressure and costs throughout the NHS. Perhaps assessing the impact of QOF is impossible because there is no control group. But we can compare UK trends with other similar countries, and there is no evidence that UK healthcare is outpacing these countries.

The problem with the NHS Reform is the NHS itself. Because it is still to be funded by Taxpayers, there is much money to be made.

It would be different if we separate out Private Health Care and State provided one.

That the management consultants found out a long time ago.

No! No! No! Let Private Providers make money from the so called NHS.

Soon the government will discover that money would drain from the state to Privateers with no improvement in the actual care delivered.

The master plan is simple: a fixed amount of money is now given to CCGs who will be responsible for the delivery of health care.


Well, from now on blame the CCGsHa Ha Ha.


Hospitals are now in a risky position and that means 5% of you who might be seriously ill are too. CCGs may not want to fund the treatment you need or within the time frame that you will need. A once wonderful training ground for doctors may no longer be so wonderful. There will probably be fewer functioning hospitals and soon the once prestigious world famous hospitals will just be bitter sweet memories of a few of us.

KILLED.

Now can you see it?
©Am Ang Zhang 2013

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

NHS & Gawande: Complications & Being Mortal!

The GMC warned that the safety of hospital patients is being put at risk because inexperienced young doctors are too often being left in charge of A&E and other units.
 We need to look at the way medical liability is covered in Hospitals where indeed all juniors must be covered by a consultant in one way or another. The responsibility would indeed be that of the hospital management and not on the poor Junior Doctor.  The difficulty is the choice between NO doctor or a less experienced one.
 Should the patient be told or should the A&E just be closed? Will management do that or just continue to abuse the poor juniors and blame them when things go wrong. No wonder my friends' children prefer to become lawyers. 


I read Gawande when I was touring Peggy's Cove and posted about his book Complications! Honestly, I did not know Gawande was giving the Reith Lectures. 

Latest Gawande Book:


In one of the most moving passages in the book, Gawande’s father, in hospice, rises from his wheelchair to hear his son lecture at their hometown university. “I was almost overcome just witnessing it,” Gawande writes.

........Gawande offers no manifesto, no checklist, for a better end of life. Rather, he profiles professionals who have challenged the status quo, including Bill Thomas and other geriatricians, palliative-care specialists, and hospice workers. Particularly inspiring are the stories of patients who made hard decisions about balancing their desire to live longer with their desire to live better. These include Gawande’s daughter’s piano teacher, who gave lessons until the last month of her life, and Gawande’s father, also a surgeon, who continued work on a school he founded in India while dying of a spinal tumor.
He’s awed not only by his father’s strength, but by the hospice care that helped the dying man articulate what mattered most to him, and to do it. Gawande thinks, as he watches his proud father climb the bleachers, “Here is what a different kind of care — a different kind of medicine — makes possible.”

What would lawyers say about M + M:

- ‘There is one place, however, where doctors can talk candidly about their mistakes, if not with patients, then at least with one another. It is called the Morbidity and Mortality Conference – or, more simply, M+M – and it takes place, usually once a week, at nearly every academic hospital in the country. This institution survives because laws protecting its proceedings from legal discovery have stayed on the books in most states, despite frequent challenges.’ 

            >>>See also Dr No: We Have No Black Boxes
                                               Abetternhs's Blog  What are we afraid of?

August 27 2014:

What a charming place: Peggy's Cove of Halifax.

The Cockroach Catcher was finishing reading the book Complications and such charming old landscape reminds him of the old traditional medical training he received and how some doctors still do. Like the author of this book.

The book reads more like a collection of blog posts and in fact it was. Yet it was real and touching. Sometimes it was brunt and brutal. and after all doctors are as human as anyone. Complications includes those doctors themselves may suffer: mental illness and alcoholism as well as the serious cardiac condition of the author's young son.

We, doctors make mistakes and please we must be allowed to sort them out without affecting career or worst, future medical behaviour.

A great book for doctors in particular and when on holiday in a charming place.










All photos©2014 Am Ang Zhang  

 (Metropolitan Books, 288 pages, $24), a collection of 14 pieces, some of which were originally published in The New Yorker and Slate magazines, Gawande uses real-life scenarios – a burned-out doctor who refuses to quit; a terminal patient who opts for risky surgery, with fatal results – to explore the larger ethical issues that underlie medicine. He asks: How much input should a patient have? How can young doctors gain hands-on experience without endangering lives? And how responsible are these doctors for their mistakes?
While “Complications” is full of tragic errors and near misses, the book is not intended to be an expose. Rather, Gawande asserts, it is meant to deepen our understanding of the intricacies of medicine. “In most medical writing, the doctor is either a hero or a villain,” he says, with an edge in his voice. “What I am trying to do is push beyond that and show how ordinary doctors are – and at the same time show that what they can do is extraordinary.”
John Freeman, Copyright (c) 2002 The Denver Post.

Quotes

- ‘There have now been many studies of elite performers – international violinists, chess grand masters, professional ice-skaters, mathematicians, and so forth – and the biggest difference… is the cumulative amount of deliberate practice they’ve had.’

- ‘We have long faced a conflict between the imperative to give patients the best possible care and the need to provide novices with experience. Residencies attempt to mitigate potential harm through supervision and graduated responsibility. And there is reason to think patients actually benefit from teaching. Studies generally find teaching hospitals have better outcomes than non-teaching hospitals. Residents may be amateurs, but having them around checking on patients, asking questions, and keeping faculty on their toes seem to help. But there is still getting around those first few unsteady times a young physician tries to put in a central line, remove a breast cancer, or sew together two segments of a colon… the ward services and clinics where residents have the most responsibility are populated by the poor, the uninsured, the drunk, and the demented… By traditional ethics and public insistence (not to mention court rulings), a patient’s right to the best care possible must trump the objective of training novices. We want perfection without practice. Yet everyone is harmed if no one is trained for the future. So learning is hidden behind drapes and anesthesia and the elisions of language.’ 

- ‘There is one place, however, where doctors can talk candidly about their mistakes, if not with patients, then at least with one another. It is called the Morbidity and Mortality Conference – or, more simply, M+M – and it takes place, usually once a week, at nearly every academic hospital in the country. This institution survives because laws protecting its proceedings from legal discovery have stayed on the books in most states, despite frequent challenges.’