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29 Dec

Thank you to Nick Bennett [@peds_id_doc] Assistant Professor in Pediatric Infectious Disease for permitting me to repost here.

The message:  many febrile illnesses in our [Western – developed country] community are due to viruses for which there are generally no effective treatments. If you or your children have a fever it may last up to three weeks and this is not affected by the use of oral antibiotics. So, in almost all cases treat the symptoms – fever control, pain management, light diet with plenty of fluids. [A Cochrane review for basis of this approach in case of respiratory tract infectionshttp://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004417.pub3/full]

culture and sensitivity

I joke that, as a Peds ID doc, it is my duty to say this at least once a day…

20121130-230002.jpg

Ok, I may not literally be slapping people upside the head, but there are certainly times when I’m doing it in my mind. The situation is common enough – a patient, parent or doctor, faced with symptoms consistent with an infectious disease, considers using antibiotics to treat bacteria. After all, we know that bacteria kill people, right? But in many of these situations the patient really has a viral infection – and viruses aren’t affected by antibiotics. So at the very least we’re wasting money and drugs. Worst case scenario? We’re promoting drug-resistant bacteria, antibiotic allergies and side effects – that in some cases can be life-threatening.

But aren’t there clues to help us make the distinction? Real clinical signs and symptoms? Well, lets review a few.

White pus on…

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NHS will order doctors to work at weekends

16 Dec

ImageHere is a list of my objections to the proposal by Commissioning Board medical director Sir Bruce Keogh announced in today’s Sunday Times for general practice in UK to be open for business at weekends

 

 

  1. For GP, it may be practices, not doctors ordered to be “open”
  2. Cannot see this working unless adequate resources released to pay the support staff, let alone the extra doctors. And the support staff will need to agree to work too!
  3. Will not be helpful for patients unless hospital services are also fully open for business when we are. At least Bruce Keogh understands this
  4. The idea that this is necessary is politically driven and not based on evidence. Accept that some areas may benefit from this (e.g. inner city populations) but rural areas and leafy suburbs unlikely to benefit.

It would be better to spend the money on a EHR which OOH GPs can access at any time (and write in!) – allows centralised OOH service allowing those who wish to work unsocial hours to do so.

In short, the proposal should be strongly resisted at the present time. Doctors (and nurses) need to be nurtured not threatened to get the best from us!

Finally, does the public really want their GPs to be available 7 days a week?

Samuel Shem, 34 Years After ‘The House of God’ – Atlantic Mobile

28 Nov

http://goo.gl/TZ3fx A fabulous essay celebrating humanity in healthcare which must be preserved for all our sakes

Dying with dignity – Liverpool Care Pathway and Palliative Care 2012

11 Nov

With the furore over Liverpool Care Pathway showing little sign of going away it may be a good time to pull together some of the threads. Margaret McCartney has written about the issue in this week’s BMJ (http://goo.gl/VeqY1)

We need to go back to Dame Cicely Saunders who established the groundwork for the specialty of Palliative Care to understand how we arrived at the stage now:

She founded St. Christopher’s Hospice in 1967 as the first research and teaching hospice linked with clinical care, pioneering the field of palliative medicine.

I was a medical student in the 80’s at Monash University, Melbourne. An element of the curriculum included palliative care, especially pain management. We even has a pocketbook to help with prescription of analgesia. Even so, people were still suffering with pain, sometimes horrible pain, right up to death on the wards. The interns and other doctors in training feared giving too much morphine to our patients. The nurses hovered like hawks to ensure we never over-stepped the mark with pain relief. Patient-controlled analgesia was introduced onto surgical and medical wards to improve pain management with variable success (e.g. Macintyre, 2001).

So fast forward to the Liverpool Care Pathway or LCP

The LCP affirms the vision of transferring the model of excellence for care of the dying from hospice care into other healthcare settings.  We have demonstrated a process that inspires, motivates and truly empowers the generic workforce in caring for the patient and their family in the last hours or days of life.”
Deborah Murphy, National Lead Nurse-LCP, Associate Director MCPCIL

A detail of the process is here

So we get to the recent storm.

Daily Mail 13th Oct 2012

Did NHS kill my mother to free bed? The profoundly disturbing story by son of patient at controversial terminal illness care home
Peter Tulloch believes doctors sought to hasten his mother’s death

He was informed that mother Jean Tulloch had just weeks to live

Without his knowledge, doctors removed her drip but Mr Tulloch believes she was still aware of her surroundings

Daily Mail 14th Oct 2012

Care? No, this is a pathway to killing people that doctors deem worthless

But, as Margaret McCartney discovered, the Daily Mail was a fan only last year of end of live care that worked:

Daily Mail 30 Aug 2011

I’ll always be grateful to the GP who eased Mum’s pain – even if it hastened her death

This was after an example of poor nursing care at end of life was reported in 2009 in the same paper

Daily Mail 28 Aug 2009

Many NHS nurses are still the finest in the world. But they let my poor father die in agony like a dog

We were treated to a celebration of the care UK citizens receive at the end of life in 2010.

Daily Mail 15 Jul 2010

The country tops the Quality of Death Index, which ranked 40 countries according to the care offered to dying people. In second place was Australia, followed by New Zealand, Ireland, Belgium and Austria.

It cannot be emphasised enough that the model of care exemplified by LCP helps reduce, if not eliminate, the disasters highlighted in the 2009 article. The knowledge, skills and attitudes which the LCP training gives healthcare professionals has virtually eliminated the scenes I witnessed as a medical student in the 80’s.

Now we come to the present again. The Association of Palliative Medicine will review end of life procedures

Daily Mail 24 Oct 2012 and here

the Association of Palliative Medicine has ordered a review of the concerns expressed by countless bereaved relatives, with a promise to explore ways of improving practice.

And the new Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt, has chipped in. (Surely not to gain political points)

Huffington Post UK 3 Nov 2012

NHS Constitution: Families To Get Consultation On ‘Death Pathway’ Decision, Says Jeremy Hunt

But wait! Is there anything actually wrong with the LCP?

Christian Medical Comment 16 Oct 2012

Consensus Statement: Liverpool Care Pathway for the Dying Patient (LCP) 

Published misconceptions and often inaccurate information about the Liverpool Care 
Pathway risk detracting from the substantial benefits it can bring to people who are dying and to their families. In response to this we are publishing this consensus statement to provide clarity about what the Liverpool Care Pathway is – and what it is not. 

Read full statement

The Catholic press also expresses view that nothing is wrong with the system two years ago.

Catholic Herald 23 Apr 2010

A dependable pathway to the life beyond

It is important that death and dying in our community is being debated. With the erosion of spirituality in our lives, our mortality is denied. However, it is so sad that some of the most vulnerable amongst us are being used to sell newspapers and gain political points.
Death and dying is part and parcel of excellent healthcare. The healthcare professionals who work in the NHS (and in private sector) understand this. It is a sign of the times that the authority of healthcare professionals (and priests) at the end of life are being called into question. We are the people who witness more death and dying in civilian populations not at war than any other group in our society. General practitioners with their teams are the midwives to dying process and the grief which follows for those left behind.

To give you an idea of the scope of knowledge and skills involved a selection books has been added.

Helpful Palliative Care resources for healthcare professionals

Paediatrics

Oxford Textbook of Palliative Care for Children

Paediatric Palliative Medicine (Oxford Specialist Handbooks in Paediatrics)

Adults

Oxford Textbook of Palliative Medicine

Oxford Handbook of Palliative Care (Oxford Medical Handbooks)

Palliative Care Nursing, Third Edition: Quality Care to the End of Life

Geriatric Palliative Care

Journals & websites

American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine

Journal of Palliative Care & Medicine

International Association for Hospice & Palliative Care

General and popular books

A selection of books at Goodreads.com

EXCLUSIVE: Secret Tory steering committee working overtime to ready NHS for mass privatisation

11 Nov

Sadly what surprises me about this news is that no-one has spotted such a working party earlier, say at the start of the NHS in 1948.

The Slog.

Enquiries by The Slog in the later hours of yesterday evening confirmed that an informal but extremely powerful Working Group has been set up by the Coalition – separate from both NHS management and the Department for Health – to assess the best way to facilitate the handover of NHS Hospital Trusts to the private sector.

Although details are hazy as yet, a picture is emerging of a Group very obviously dominated by privateers and anti-State lobbyists. To the best of my knowledge thus far, not a single member of it is closely associated with (or technically proficient in the understanding of) Britain’s rapidly expanding mutuality sector.

In the midst of blanket 24/7 coverage of paedophiles under every care home bed alongside easily the most boring Presidential election since 1972, this NHS story may not gain much traction immediately; but it is nevertheless the clearest sign yet to emerge of…

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eLearning Needs in NHS Sept 2012 #mobimooc

13 Sep

Mobimooc 2012 is up and running.  2 webinars have been well attended.  Regrettably the timing is not great for me – but the team has recorded the lectures 

By coincidence two new systems are due to launch in my region of UK.  An electronic prescribing system (EPS) and new telephone triage service (NHS 111)

NHS 111

http://goo.gl/ra2IE points to introduction to the system.  The NHS has also provided online introduction with accompanying slideshow here with direct link to the video Introduction to NHS 111

Here is a great example of mLearning in action but the local NHS managers insisted on practice teams send delegates to a meeting somewhere in my town.  Clearly this was a poor use of time for my practice manager.  With such a good presentation created, it is clear to me that the time taken for many people to get to the meeting would be better spent watching the slide show.  How patronising of our service managers!  There is apparently good evidence that the new system will be good for patients and reduce some of the demand on emergency services from (trivial) emergencies.

It does look like no-one locally is aware of mobile learning project management.  Here is  an excellent opportunity which has passed us by!  Notice there is no system on the website to help visitors assess their learning after reading the transcript while watching the slide show.  Why is the slide show an embedded video rather than posted on Slideshare, Brainshark, or other public cloud service?  How hard would it be to have a feedback form?

Whether the UK really needs another emergency number is a moot point now.  As a GP, this system looks to me a threat for the future primacy of General Practice as the first point of contact for health care questions by UK citizens.  This is sad.  In the not too distant future UK may come to regret the demise of the family doctor as an independent gatekeeper to healthcare services.  That is a discussion for a future post.

Electronic Prescribing System

I wish to share the following from my local medical committee concerning the roll out of the new electronic prescribing service because the rational behind it is described and the questions from my representatives focus us on another opportunity for eLearning.

NHS Bedfordshire and NHS Luton are working for Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) Release 2.  This will mean that the PCTs would then be enabled to allow practices and pharmacies to take part in EPS, if the practices and pharmacies want to.  This is part of a national programme.  We were told that EPS has been available in Hertfordshire for some time and that just under 30 practices are taking part in EPS there.  
We’ve seen documentation from Bedfordshire and Luton about what EPS is; what practices would have to do under EPS; what the criteria would be for selecting patients who could use EPS and what participating practices would need to do to support patients in making their choice; how patients would nominate which pharmacy they want to use for EPS and what the participating practice would need to do to facilitate this.

Beds LMC members recognised the positive objectives of the scheme, e.g.
It is supposed to reduce GP work load ultimately
It may be more convenient to the patient
It may reduce waste
It is understood that EPS will be optional for practices.
But Beds LMC members did have some concerns:
To what extent is it a whole new area of unfunded work in general practice?
Beds LMC members thought that EPS would create the following work:
1. GPs will be expected to identify suitable patients.
2. The GP has to look at all applications for it and make sure they do not have any of the exclusions (large groups of patients such as those on controlled drugs, anticoagulants and some others).
3. The GP or GP staff will be expected to promote and explain the process and follow this up in writing and collect a signature 
4. The practice will be expected to telephone suitable patients and offer it to them.
5. Time will be need to train GP staff.  Nothing about backfill for this.
6. All prescribers will have to use smartcards and be wary of prescribing some formulations or brands of medication which do not have a suitable barcode.  Not all practices use their “smartcards” when consulting because they cause their system to run slow and time out.  So clinicians log in and work offline.
Patients with regular repeat prescriptions tend to be patients on chronic disease registers.
On the rare occasions when patients such as this come in “just for a repeat prescription” it gives the GP an opportunity to pick up on preventative care, QoF items and other aspects of the health and wellbeing agenda.  In other words, the aspects GPs do not always have time for when dealing with acute illness in a 10 minute consultation.  Could the use of EPS actually reduce the level of care available for some patients?
Concerns that the EPS will not be a simple scheme, as some items cannot be included in EPS, so there would have to be two prescribing systems for EPS patients: one for EPS-included medications and one for EPS-excluded medications
Is there any evidence that EPS has saved time for GPs or staff in primary care?
If any Hertfordshire practices who are using EPS would be willing to share any of their experiences or would be able to answer any of the specific concerns listed, it would be very interesting to hear from you?

Here is my response:

Wow! How can such a simple idea as electronic repeat prescribing become so complex?

FIrst thoughts: I want nothing to do with a system with more bureacracy to set up. We have enough to deal with without this additional burden.

Second: The system is doomed unless bandwith of broadband connections is increased to cope with the demand from our desktops (and mobile devices). Currently broadband speed is around 10megabits per second down and 0.5 mb/s up, at least in Watford. Divide this by 8 prescription terminals and you can see the speed drop makes the system inoperable.

Third: Barcodes are not immune from corruption; at least several times a week a popup warns there has been a problem and the barcode should be scratched out. How do you do that with an electronic script?

Fourth: The main benefit of EPS is prescribing from mobile devices. With 4G/LTE imminent this seems practical so long as all prescribers have feature phones with the necessary hardware. I fear the powers that be are focussing on the wrong systems. We need secure login systems for iPhones/iPads and android devices to make EPS useful (e.g. prescribing urgent scripts on home visits, or residential facilities)

FIfth: How are pharmacists supposed to be persuaded to adopt this?

Sixth: Prescribing2U is already available. How does this differ from EPS 2?

Seventh: All HCPs who access clinical system must log in with NHS Smartcard. If there are hardware problems managing this, the IM&T teams across our area must fix these before rolling out EPS.

This system is being imposed on us on the background of a longterm agenda to cut the printed script costs.  There is also an agenda to improve security of prescribing.  Since proposed several years ago, IM&T systems and devices have evolved.  Mobile devices are so much more capable than before.  For example, my smartphone (HTC One X) is more powerful computer than my desktop system 10 years ago!

There is nothing in my local medical committee concerns nor in the NHS EPS background documents to indicate any desire to develop a mLearning project to aid in the implementation of this system.

Conclusion

Two new systems are being implemented shortly with the intention of improving patient care in an NHS region.  Two sophisticated organisations are responsible for the roll out of NHS 111 and EPS.  Neither seems to embrace education technology which, in my opinion, would ease the pain involved in changing behaviour of health care professionals and the public.

There is clearly a very long way to go to embed eLearning into the NHS.  This is a terrible state of affairs for a developed society.  It is ironic that some countries with large health care burdens (e.g. sub-Sahara Africa countries; South America countries) may be receiving superb instruction in mLearning systems.

I would love to see some discussion about the particular systems described above – your experiences of similar systems in your country, ideas on how to improve implementation, or anything else you think would be interesting.

Thank you in advance…

The Great Tory NHS TUPE Pension Scam: read, share and fight!

25 Jul

Ha! Rid the millstone of NHS pensions to make privatisation a tastier option. Cannot be good for future of the service

The SKWAWKBOX

I like patterns. They tell you a lot. And I’m generally good at spotting them – on psychometric tests various employers have put me through, one part I usually get maximum marks at is pattern-identification. Sometimes you look at a particular puzzle and it doesn’t seem to make any sense, and then all of a sudden one part will become meaningful and the rest falls into place.

I had a similar experience earlier this week when I saw a comment on Twitter by a friend of mine (@michaelh14 – I’d recommend following him). He was having a discussion with someone and mentioned that if NHS staff are transferred to a private provider their pension rights will be protected by TUPE but new employees taken on by the private employer would not be – and suddenly a lot of pieces started to fit. And they show that this government is making…

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Link

skwalker1964 | This WordPress.com site is the bee’s knees

9 Jul

http://skwalker1964.wordpress.com/

Old age care as frail as it’s users?

9 Jul

Care of frail elderly

The weekend newspapers included reports here in UK that older people with £35,000 to £50,000 saved for a rainy day would be out of luck if they needed residential care later. The prize for being honest savers was the State would rob you of the hard earned money to pay for care and when the money ran out the State would continue to pay. For the hard living spenders, they will get residential care, if required, for free from the start.

Is this fair? In my opinion this makes a mockery of saving ethos.

To add insult to injury, care at home is failing our older citizens. It is scandalous that contracts for home care budget for 15-20 minutes per client for washing, toileting and dressing then a meal. These people are often frail, usually vulnerable. Our pets are often looked after better!

Part of the problem is the zeal people have destroyed residential institutions. With the rising elderly population of whom nearly 10% will need support there are not enough residential places. So Local Authorities are purchasing care at home packages. These packages are ridiculously designed in many cases. Failing to budget for the travelling time of carers is negligent. All the travel time would be caring time if the carers were based in large institutions. In days gone by these institutions were community hospitals and care homes.

Our vulnerable elderly are not helped by well meaning people who trumpet end of life choices for all. It is soul destroying to see people convinced they have a right to die at the place of their choosing. It can cause terrible upset for relatives who are left behind. Failure to fund adequate home care is part of the problem. In the current climate vulnerable elderly are stuck between Scylla of doing right thing and preserving some if not all of hard earned money for the next generation and Charybdis of getting properly cared for while exhausting all the hard earned savings.

Quote

What doctors do | Abetternhs’s Blog

18 Jun

http://abetternhs.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/what-doctors-do-2/

Illusions of Autonomy

Where medical ethics and human behaviour meet, by Dr Philip Berry

Enjoying every second

Cada lugar, cada rincón, cada momento compartido arreglando el mundo entre imprescindibles

The Commonplace Book

Jim McManus blogs on public health, ethics, books, theology and more