Tuesday, January 30, 2018

M + M: Morbidity and Mortality Conference

© Am Ang Zhang 2018



I had a most enjoyable time on a Viking Ocean Cruise to return to the sad case of a Doctor being struck off. Reminds me of the book I read by Gawande: 




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.’ 


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


Peggy's Cove: Charm & Complications!

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.

 (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.’ 

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Antidepressants or Lithium! Side Effects but you will live to experience it!

In recent write ups about antidepressants, there is no mention of Lithium. The Cockroach Catcher first worked with one Australian Psychiatrist that worked with Cade and I was, so to speak, very biased towards Lithium. Yes, Lithium has side effects that might be serious. But hang on, you get to live to experience it. Think about it.


Thank goodness: someone is talking about it.

 Atacama where Lithium is extracted  © Am Ang Zhang 2015

Lithium: The Gift That Keeps on Giving in Psychiatry

Nassir Ghaemi, MD, MPH
June 16, 2017

At the recent American Psychiatric Association annual meeting in San Diego, an update symposium was presented on the topic of "Lithium: Key Issues for Practice." In a session chaired by Dr David Osser, associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, presenters reviewed various aspects of the utility of lithium in psychiatry.

Leonardo Tondo, MD, a prominent researcher on lithium and affective illness, who is on the faculty of McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School and the University of Cagliari, Italy, reviewed studies on lithium's effects for suicide prevention. Ecological studies in this field have found an association between higher amounts of lithium in the drinking water and lower suicide rates.


These "high" amounts of lithium are equivalent to about 1 mg/d of elemental lithium or somewhat more. Conversely, other studies did not find such an association, but tended to look at areas where lithium levels are not high (ie, about 0.5 mg/d of elemental lithium or less). Nonetheless, because these studies are observational, causal relationships cannot be assumed. It is relevant, though, that lithium has been causally associated with lower suicide rates in randomized clinical trials of affective illness, compared with placebo, at standard doses (around 600-1200 mg/d of lithium carbonate).

Many shy away from Lithium not knowing that not prescribing it may actually lead to death by suicide. As such all worries about long term side effects become meaningless. 


Will the new generation of psychiatrists come round to Lithium again? How many talented individuals could have been saved by lithium?

APA Nassir Ghaemi, MD MPH
  • In psychiatry, our most effective drugs are the old drugs: ECT (1930s), lithium (1950s), MAOIs and TCAs (1950s and 1960s) and clozapine (1970s)
    • We haven’t developed a drug that’s more effective than any other drug since the 1970’s
    • All we have developed is safer drugs (less side effects), but not more effective
  • Dose lithium only once a day, at night
  • For patients with bipolar illness, you don’t need a reason to give lithium. You need a reason not to give lithium  (Originally by Dr. Frederick K. Goodwin)


Cade, John Frederick Joseph (1912 - 1980)
Taking lithium himself with no ill effect, John Cade then used it to treat ten patients with chronic or recurrent mania, on whom he found it to have a pronounced calming effect. Cade's remarkably successful results were detailed in his paper, 'Lithium salts in the treatment of psychotic excitement', published in the Medical Journal of Australia (1949). He subsequently found that lithium was also of some value in assisting depressives. His discovery of the efficacy of a cheap, naturally occurring and widely available element in dealing with manic-depressive disorders provided an alternative to the existing therapies of shock treatment or prolonged hospitalization.

In 1985 the American National Institute of Mental Health estimated that Cade's discovery of the efficacy of lithium in the treatment of manic depression had saved the world at least $US 17.5 billion in medical costs.

And many lives too!

I have just received a query from a reader of this blog about Lithium, and I thought it worth me reiterating my views here.      It is no secret that I am a traditionalist who believes that lithium is the drug of choice for Bipolar disorders.

The following is an extract from The Cockroach Catcher:
“Get him to the hospital. Whatever it is he is not ours, not this time. But wait. Has he overdosed on the Lithium?”

“No. my wife is very careful and she puts it out every morning, and the rest is in her bag.”

Phew, at least I warned them of the danger. It gave me perpetual nightmare to put so many of my Bipolars on Lithium but from my experience it was otherwise the best.

“Get him admitted and I shall talk to the doctor there.”

He was in fact delirious by the time they got him into hospital and he was admitted to the local Neurological hospital. He was unconscious for at least ten days but no, his lithium level was within therapeutic range.

He had one of the worst encephalitis     they had seen in recent times and they were surprised he survived.

Then I asked the Neurologist who was new, as my good friend had retired by then, if the lithium had in fact protected him. He said he was glad I asked as he was just reading some article on the neuroprotectiveness of lithium.

Well, you never know. One does get lucky sometimes. What lithium might do to Masud in the years to come would be another matter.

I found that people from the Indian subcontinent were very loyal once they realised they had a good doctor – loyalty taking the form of doing exactly what you told them, like keeping medicine safe; and also insisting that they saw only you, not one of your juniors even if they were from their own country. It must have been hard when I retired.

Some parents question the wisdom of using a toxic drug for a condition where suicide risk is high. My answer can only be that lithium seems inherently able to reduce that desire to kill oneself, more than the other mood stabilizers, as the latest Harvard research shows.
Lithium has its problems – toxic at a high level and useless at a low one, although the last point is debatable as younger people seem to do well at below the lower limit of therapeutic range.
Many doctors no longer have the experience of its use and may lose heart as the patient slowly builds up the level of lithium at the cellular level. The blood level is a safeguard against toxicity and anyone starting on lithium will have to wait at least three to four weeks for its effect to kick in. In fact the effect does not kick in, but just fades in if you get the drift.
Long term problems are mainly those of the thyroid and thyroid functions must be monitored closely more so if there is a family history of thyroid problems. Kidney dysfunction seldom occurs with the Child Psychiatrist’s age group but is a well known long term risk.
Also if there is any condition that causes electrolyte upset, such as diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration, the doctor must be alerted to the fact that the patient is on Lithium.
Could Lithium be the Aspirin of Psychiatry? Only time will tell!
Related Posts:



Chile: Salar de Atacama & Bipolar Disorder.

Lithium in Tap Water and Suicide Mortality in Japan.

Abstract: Lithium has been used as a mood-stabilizing drug in people with mood disorders. Previous studies have shown that highest levels of suicide mortality rate in Japan. Lithium levels in the tap water supplies of each municipality were measured using natural levels of lithium in drinking water may protect against suicide. This study evaluated the association between lithium levels in tap water and the suicide standardized mortality ratio (SMR) in 40 municipalities of Aomori prefecture, which has the inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. After adjusting for confounders, a statistical trend toward significance was found for the relationship between lithium levels and the average SMR among females. These findings indicate that natural levels of lithium in drinking water might have a protective effect on the risk of suicide among females. Future research is warranted to confirm this association.



"Many psychiatric residents have no or limited experience prescribing lithium, largely a reflection of the enormous focus on the newer drugs in educational programs supported by the pharmaceutical industry."

One might ask why there has been such a shift from Lithium.

Could it be the simplicity of the salt that is causing problems for the younger generation of psychiatrists brought up on various neuro-transmitters?

Could it be the fact that 
Lithium was discovered in Australia? Look at the time it took for Helicobacter pylori to be accepted.

Some felt it has to do with how little money is to be made from Lithium.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Dark Side: Mother threw own baby in fire!


Another Baby Murdered: 


“A mother stole a baby from a wealthy family. She proceeded to throw her own baby into a fire and bring up the baby from the wealthy family as her own.”

That was not another major Social Services blunder.

That was at the Metropolitan Opera on Sept. 25th 2015.

Verdi’s Il Trovatore is probably well known to most for its Anvil Chorus. For me it is about The Dark Side, the dark side of human nature.

The Dark Side:
“My hunch is that despite media coverage many of us still fail to grasp the dark side – the dark side of human nature. Until we do, we shall continue to read about child abuse, abductions and murders of the worst kind.”From The Cockroach Catcher.

Much has been written about training others to do the doctor’s work in an attempt to save health cost. What is not covered is the fact that there is training and there is a broader aspect of education. The ability to transmit culture external to genetic coding is what distinguishes Homo sapiens from other animal species on Planet Earth. Many bloggers are well educated in this cultural respect either by design, by choice or by accident. There is now an uncomfortable feeling of de-education in the Brave New World. Will the next generation of doctors, nurses and bloggers be as cultured? I do wonder!
 

In the mean time unnecessary deaths continued since Dennis O’Neill & Maria Colwell with millions spent on QCs holding public enquiries.            A Chronology of selected inquiries
Darker side:

Doctor suspended for blowing the whistle:

Dr Kim Holt was suspended from Great Ormond Street Hospital.

SOMEONE took a decision at the famous Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), in Bloomsbury, to suspend a senior pediatrician, Dr Kim Holt, from her post.

We know why the good doctor was suspended on full pay.

These are the facts: Dr Holt, a specialist of 25 years  experience, started working in Haringey in a children’s department run by GOSH 
in 2004.

Two years later she started writing to her superiors complaining about the loss of staff, and the risk of a possible “disaster” at the child protection service in Haringey if more doctors were not attached to the department. This was a matter of “public interest” and should be “investigated”, argued Dr Holt. 

As readers will know, such a “disaster” occurred when a locum pediatrician was called in to see Baby P and made a mess of her examination. Two days after the examination Baby P died.

Was Dr Kim Holt patted on the back for her whistle-blowing?
No, someone, or a committee at GOSH, felt offended by Dr Holt’s interference – and suspended her.


Dark Side of The Opera:
In Il Trovatore, Azucena is the mother who killed her own baby and Manrico was brought up by her. Manrico is the brother of Count Di Luna that burnt Azucena’s mother for being a witch. Azucena had to avenge her mother’s death. How much hate can you hold. She had to throw her own child in the fire, bring up Manrico so that he would one day be killed by his own brother! Unbelievable! The full synopsis here. 

Well, that roughly is it, Verdi’s Il Trovatore  and the dark side. One of Verdi's best!





Most people were looking forward to seeing the Russian superstars take the stage for very different reasons. One hand there was Anna Netrebko, singing her first Leonora at the Met, a character that she has dominated in Europe. And on the other side of the bracket was the return of baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky to the stage after months of battling a brain tumor. Safe to say that both stars were at very high levels, delivering nuanced and deeply poignant performances.



Monday, January 1, 2018

NHS Hospitals: New Year sale?


 Cassius:
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves."
Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)



© 2013 Am Ang Zhang

Looks as though the following might be surplus to requirements by the new NHS, as it was decreed that clients or service users do not really need hospitals.

The Background:
Historically, London Medical Schools were established in the hospitals in the poorer areas in order that medical students could have enough cases to practice on and in return the poor patients had the advantages of free treatment. There is nothing like volume for medical training.

For a very long time, doctors trained in London were one of the most valued. A Senior Registrar (yes, in those days) can easily get a Consultant job anywhere else in the Commonwealth and often a Professorship (British styled ones). In other words London trained doctors are a highly exportable commodity.

“The shape of the London hospital system has also been affected by developments in medical science and medical education. In many ways it has been the activities of doctors which have determined the pattern of the hospitals. The increasing ability to treat disease and improved standards of care shortened the time patients spent in hospital, raised the demand for services and led to an escalation of cost. The development of specialisation led first to the development of the special hospitals and later to special departments within the general hospitals. Advances in bacteriology, biochemistry, physiology and radiology cre­ated the need for laboratory accommodation and service departments, so that hospitals no longer consisted merely of an operating theatre and a series of wards. Sub-specialisation ultimately meant that services had to be organised on a regional basis and the very reputation of the capital’s doctors affected the number of patients to be seen. The hospitals of central London have long served a population much larger than their local residents.

It is against this complex background of population movement, poor social conditions, disease, wealth and poverty, professional expertise, critical comment and publicity that the London hospitals developed. A complex institutional pattern emerged. Voluntary hospitals grew up beside the ancient royal and endowed hospitals. A local government service providing institutional care for sick paupers developed alongside the hospitals. A network of fever hospitals, scientifically planned from the outset, was established. Physically near to each other, staffed by doctors who had trained in the same hospitals, and often serving the same people, the different objectives and status of the institutions led them to work in virtual isolation from each other. Each hospital had its own traditions and nobody standing in the middle of a ward could have doubted for a moment the type of hospital he was in. Countless details gave each an atmosphere of its own, and the different methods of administration and levels of staffing set them apart.”                  Geoffrey Rivett





Most of my Medical School Orthopaedic Surgeons were trained here.

The hospital treats almost 10,000 patients a year.

Although most patients would not consider travelling too far for a routine hip replacement, which can probably be done as well in their local district general hospital, the specialist clinics at the Royal National Orthopaedic may provide a reason to make the journey.

Specialist clinics deal with bone tumours, scoliosis (curvature of the spine), rheumatology, spinal injuries, specialist hand and shoulder conditions and sports injuries.

One word of warning – the RNOH's trust did not do well in the Healthcare Commission annual health check.

Strange that. So it may be the next to go.


The Cockroach Catcher was there.

So was the MP, as a patient.

If you have a head injury, stroke or condition affecting the brain, such as Alzheimer's, epilepsy or multiple sclerosis, this is the place to go. Along with the nearby Institute of Neurology, it is major international centre for treatment, research and training. The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery has 200 beds at its central London site near Euston station, and treated more than 4,500 in-patients and 54,000 outpatients last year.

Healthcare Commission quality of services rating: Good

Perhaps not for sale so soon. Or saving it for the needy MPs?

Neurologists wear bow ties in my days.


The largest specialist heart and lung centre in the UK, the Royal Brompton and Harefield acquired its reputation through the work of Sir Magdi Yacoub, the internationally renowned surgeon who pioneered heart transplants in the UK the 1980s.

The trust attracts staff and patients from across the country and around the globe, and is a centre for research with between 500 and 600 papers published in scientific journals each year. Its 10 research programmes each received the highest rating in 2006.

Each year, surgeons perform 2,400 coronary angioplasties (where a balloon is threaded through an incision in the groin to the heart and expanded to widen a blocked artery), 1,200 coronary bypasses and 2,000 treatments for respiratory failure – so they do not lack for experience.

Other specialist heart units with strong reputations are Papworth Hospital, Huntingdon, where Britain's first successful heart transplant was carried out in 1979; and the Cardiothoracic Centre, Liverpool, formed in 1991.

Healthcare Commission quality of services rating: Good

It could not be anything else.


The first dedicated cancer hospital in the world, founded in 1851, is still the best. With the Institute of Cancer Research, the Royal Marsden is the largest comprehensive cancer centre in Europe, seeing more than 40,000 patients from the UK and abroad each year.

It has the highest income from private patients of any hospital in Britain, testifying to its international reputation.

Very ready for Medical Tourism!!!

Healthcare Commission quality of services rating: Excellent



The country's largest ear, nose and throat hospital is also Europe's centre for audiological research, with an international reputation for its expertise and range of specialties, all on one site on London's Gray's Inn Road.

Its services range from minor procedures such as inserting grommets (tiny valves placed in the eardrum of a child to drain fluid from the middle ear) to major head and neck surgery. A quarter of its 60,000 patients were referred from other parts of the UK and abroad last year. The hospital has a cochlear implant programme, a snoring and sleep disorder clinic, and a voice clinic, the oldest and largest in the UK. One in 25 people develops voice problems such as hoarseness, but it rises to one in five among, for example, teachers, actors and barristers.

A measure of the Royal National's success is the fact that one third of patients referred from other clinics or hospitals with voice problems has their diagnosis changed on investigation there. Although there are many other centres where throat, nose and ear problems can be treated, none are pre-eminent enough to be included in this guide.

Wow!

Healthcare Commission quality of services rating: Good

Britain's leading national and international referral centre for diseases of the bowel is the only hospital in the UK and one of only 14 worldwide to be recognised as a centre of excellence by the World Organisation of Digestive Endoscopy.

It is a chosen site for the NHS bowel-cancer screening programme being rolled out across the country, which seeks to detect and treat changes in the bowel before cancer develops. Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer in the UK but often goes undetected because sufferers can fail to report important symptoms, such as blood in the faeces, often out of embarrassment.

Bowel cancer can be treated via colonoscopy, to find and remove polyps – growths on the wall of the bowel. The hospital's education programme attracts clinicians from across the UK and overseas with the aim of spreading good practice elsewhere.
The hospital is part of the North West London Hospitals Trust.


The liver unit at King's is the largest in the world. It is one of 31 specialist liver units in the UK, but none can match it for expertise, facilities or state of the art equipment. It offers investigation and treatment for all types of acute and chronic liver disease, which is increasing in the UK.

The unit performs 200 liver transplants a year, and more than 200 patients with liver failure are admitted to its intensive care unit each year.

King's carried out the first successful transplantation of islet cells – part of the pancreas involved in producing insulin – in a Type 1 diabetic, greatly reducing his need for injected insulin. Last month, the Department of Health announced plans to establish six new islet transplantation centres round the country, based on the research at King's.

Healthcare Commission quality of services rating: Excellent


No bargain price, I am afraid.

The Maudsley Hospital

The Cockroach Catcher was there too.

One of Britain's oldest hospitals, the Maudsley's contribution to mental-health care stretches back at least 760 years.

Today it is a centre of excellence for the delivery mental-health care. Its addictions centre offers new treatments for drug abuse, alcoholism, eating disorders and smoking, it provides innovative care for disturbed children and adolescents and is the largest mental-health training institute in the country.

It has pioneered new approaches to the treatment of heroin addiction and its specialists have raised concerns over the link between cannabis and schizophrenia which have led the Government to review changes to the law.

Healthcare Commission quality of services rating: Good




If you have a child with a rare or complicated disorder, this is the place to come.

And they do and many are from the Middle East.

So the bad press would not matter, good for the Medical Tourist trade.

It is the largest centre for research into childhood illness outside the US, the largest centre for children's cancer in Europe and delivers the widest range of specialist care of any children's hospital in the UK.

Great Ormond Street won't treat just any patient, though: it only accepts specialist referrals from other hospitals and community services – in order to ensure it receives the rare and complex cases and not the routine.

I have done that: see Teratoma: An Extract


Paediatrics is one of the most rewarding areas of medicine for doctors because it has seen some of the most spectacular advances over the past 30 years, especially in cancer, where survival has improved dramatically.

Many of those cared for at GOSH still have life-threatening conditions but they are promised the best care both because of the expertise of its medical staff and because of the trust's extraordinary success in attracting charitable donations, which have made it among the best-funded medical institutions in the country.

Healthcare Commission quality of services rating: Excellent.

Baby P or no Baby P.


My eyes still well up when Moorfields is mentioned. Honest.

The largest specialist eye hospital in the country and one of the largest in the world, Moorfields was founded in 1805. It treats more patients than any other eye hospital or clinic in the UK and more than half the ophthalmologists practising in the UK have received specialist training at Moorfields.

However, in recent years the hospital has relied too heavily on its reputation and grown complacent. Though standards of academic excellence are still high, it has neglected the services it offers to patients, which were rated weak on quality by the Healthcare Commission in its annual health check last year.

The hospital carried out 23,000 ophthalmic operations last year, providing surgeons with extensive experience on which to hone their skills. The reputation of the trust is such that it has started to run clinics in distant hospitals, capitalising on its brand. The hospital employs 1,300 staff who work on 13 sites.

Perhaps it is not so good to be following on commercial branding. Stick to medicine!!!

Despite its recent problems, Moorfields remains Britain's most highly-regarded eye treatment centre. No alternative hospitals have a comparable reputation.
Healthcare Commission quality of services rating: Weak

For bargain hunters then.


Material drawn from The Independent.


So do you really think that hospitals are not necessary, or not necessary for the average citizen of England. Soon they will be sold and it will be costly to buy them back.

What about medical training? If these hospitals are sold, who pays?

And watch out, someone, your parent, your spouse, your child and even your MP may need a Hospital Consultant one day. 

Say something now.


Cassius:
"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves."
Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)


If you think you have read this before: you have indeed. As NHS reform is just re-cycling of earlier political dogma, the Cockroach Catcher can re-cycle his blog posts!!!