In the news this month:
In Profile – Medical Treatments of the Past
– Investigating 17th Century medical treatments – we have come a long way!
NHS & Medical News
– NHS plans to free-up GPs’ valuable time
– Pioneering surgery to help deaf children
– Teaching endoscopy skills with gaming!
– Ultraviolet and red light irradiation to decontaminate transplanted organs
– The Welch Allyn Hand Held Sphygmanometer is our popular product discount of the month
In Profile – Medical treatments of the past
Although some modern medical remedies may seem unpleasant, we should all thank our lucky stars that we live in the modern age of medicine!
A recent report from the BBC, delved into our medical past, looking at research from the University of Cambridge into the medical notes of two famous doctors from the 17th century: Simon Forman and Richard Napier. Their extensive surviving case notes range from the 1590s to the 1630s and provide a very interesting insight in to how illness and disease was managed a number of centuries ago.
Notes taken at the time indicate that patients were particularly concerned with witchcraft and evil magic and often blamed these factors for a variety of symptoms and ailments. The remedies themselves would also sometimes be mystical in nature, with Richard Napier consulting angels as part of his treatment regime.
A number of practical remedies were also strange to say the least – one noted remedy for ‘the pox with boils and itch’ was roses, violets, boiled crabs and deer dung. Another remedy advised wearing dead pigeons as slippers!
Have our ailments changed?
It is interesting to learn that some of the medical problems experienced 400 years ago are similar to those brought to GPs today. Mental health issues were relatively common, with ‘melancholy’ being a particular problem. Researchers have said that the notes are a particularly interesting insight into the day-to-day details of everyday life of those people not involved in the major historical events of the time.
We think that it is safe to conclude that modern medical treatments are not quite so unappealing, and are undoubtedly much more likely to result in a cure!
NHS & Medical News
Successful NHS programme frees-up valuable GP time
Many of us have experienced difficulty when trying to book a GP appointment at one time or another, so it is always good news to hear about NHS innovations which are designed to help medical professionals concentrate their time on what is most important i.e. patient care.
In its initial pilot phase, The ‘Time for Care’ programme freed up more than half a million hours of patient time last year and its success means it is being rolled out for another three years and wider afield so more people can benefit.
The programme has focused on identifying and prioritising those activities which actually have the most impact on patient wellbeing, and also on improving learning and sharing to make more GP time available.
Another positive benefit has been that NHS staff taking part in the scheme have reported fewer feelings of pressure and burnout and increased job satisfaction.
Pioneering surgery to help deaf children
As one of the world’s leading medical organisations, the NHS is at the forefront of pioneering treatments and has unveiled a new brain surgery programme which provides children who are deaf with the opportunity to experience the sensation of ‘hearing’.
‘Auditory Brainstem Implants’ (ABIs) will be carried out by just two expert teams : the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London.
This highly specialised surgery is appropriate for children under 5 whose inner ear or auditory nerve didn’t develop properly in the womb, meaning that they are not able to benefit from cochlear implants. It involves inserting a device directly into the brain to stimulate hearing pathways. The device creates the sensation of sound and also helps children to experience their own voices, so aids the learning of speech.
Children and their parents who have benefited from the treatment have said that it has the potential to change lives, and it is estimated that around nine children a year will receive the operation.
How to be a successful endoscopist? Learn through gaming!
The University of Toronto has recently shown that adding a gaming element to endoscopy training can improve the way that students learn.
Gaming elements like competition, ranking and rewards have been used for training in some other medical disciplines in the past, but this is the first time that they have been trialed specifically for endoscopy training.
The trial (which was reported by Gastroenterology and Endoscopy News) involved 36 endoscopy students who were undergoing their training. 18 students were randomly picked to have gaming elements as part of their training. This included aspects like a leader board, achievement badges and rewards for good performance.
All trainees were measured before and after their training by an independent assessor. Those who had experienced the gaming elements were found to have consistently higher scores.
In conclusion researchers pointed out that the improvements were in actual fact fairly modest, so more trials would be required to ensure that changing the training ethos was actually worthwhile. We are sure that this must be a fun way to learn, nonetheless!
Ultraviolet and red light irradiation can be used to decontaminate transplant organs
There are a number of risks which must be mitigated during organ transplants, including the possibility of the recipient’s body rejecting the new organ. Another major concern is the fear that the donor organ may be contaminated with disease which could be passed to the recipient.
A recent piece of research highlighted on Medical.net and published in the journal Nature Communications was carried out by researchers in Brazil and Canada.
Scientists have developed a method to use ultraviolet and red light irradiation to decontaminate organs before transplant. This means that even organs donated by patients with known viral infections such as hepatitis C could in the future be organ donors – something which has not been possible in the past.
This method is currently used to treat blood, but has now been adapted so that it can reduce the viral and bacterial loads in donated organs. Initial results using the method with lung transplants have been refined and the results are positive. It is hoped that special equipment can be developed to manage the process for a wide range of transplants in the future.
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