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Richard Smith: What is RRI and was I the wrong Richard Smith?

25 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

richard_smith_2014“I’d like to introduce Richard Smith, who is professor of philosophy at Durham University, an expert on epistemology, and chair of several European committees, who will speak on conflict of interest.” These weren’t the exact words that introduced me at the European Union’s conference on SIS-RRI (Science in Society—Responsible Research and Innovation), but they were close. I started with, “I’m afraid you’ve got the wrong Richard Smith, but it’s easily done when there are 5000 of us in London and New York. I am luckily going to speak about conflict of interest.” more…

The BMJ Today: Tomorrow’s World for doctors, and how hospitals are evicting patients today

25 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

I used to love watching Tomorrow’s World as a child to see how scientists thought we might be living in 10 or 20 years. I remember being told that we would be talking to each other over video links, seeing prototype mobile phones, and being shown countless household appliances and robots to take on the more mundane chores of life. more…

Jonathon Tomlinson: What are we afraid of?

25 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

Review of
Atul Gawande: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. Profile Books
Margaret McCartney: Living with Dying. Pinter and Martin

jonathon_tomlinsonSurgeon, professor, and best selling writer Atul Gawande confesses halfway through his new book, Being Mortal, “I felt foolish to still be learning how to talk to people at this stage in my career.” Like every conscientious, solution focused surgeon he has found an answer by way of a simple, honest phrase to share with his patients, “I’m worried.” “They were such simple words,” he says, “but it wasn’t hard to see how much they communicated.”

The patient might very well respond: “But I’m the sick one, what the hell are you worried about?” This is an excellent question. Among the things doctors worry about is their own mortality and their inability to cope when they cannot cure. more…

Pritpal S Tamber: Moustaches, fund raising, and independence from the current healthcare system

24 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

pritpal_tamber_2014I am growing a moustache. This is not the kind of thing you usually need to broadcast, but I am growing it as part of Movember because I believe these kinds of mission specific campaigns are crucial to finding new ways to fund health related services. more…

Richard Lehman’s journal review—24 November 2014

24 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

richard_lehmanNEJM 20 November 2014 Vol 371
1963 The melanoma trials last week got me thinking about how the current model of cancer drug research lets down trial participants and dying patients. Between 2002 and 2014, there have been 71 drug approvals by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of metastatic and/or advanced and/or refractory solid tumours. The median gain in survival provided by these is 2.1 months. I discovered these figures in an excellent paper in JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, a journal that some of you may not read. I don’t know how it got hidden there. more…

The BMJ Today: Why are we bringing back smoking?

24 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

As an ex-smoker who gave up the habit with huge difficulty 30 years ago, I have been pleased at the way smoking has become increasingly invisible in my life. First it disappeared from advertisements on my television screen, then from colleagues in my office, and then from my pub.

But now it is reappearing. Last week a television advertisement for cigarettes was aired, and on Friday night I sat next to two smokers in my local. Admittedly, these people are “vaping” e-cigarettes, rather than “smoking” tobacco, but it is still thrusting the habit back in my face. And it is worth mentioning that the companies who make e-cigarettes are largely the same ones who make the real thing. more…

David Zigmond: Payments for diagnosing dementia—what are the hidden costs?

21 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

david_zigmond2Payment by results in matters of complex welfare can easily subtract from, rather than add to, our greater good. The recent and mooted NHS initiative for payment by results—to pay GPs £55 for each new dementia diagnosis—matches any folly in our contemporary gallery of well intentioned welfare misconceptions.

This fresh folly draws from these simplistic assumptions: that dementia is an illness that is underdiagnosed and undertreated; that doctors are undermotivated to address these problems; and that financial incentives will substantially change our burdens from dementia. more…

Paul Laboi: Making dialysis care more person centred

21 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

PaulLaboiIt’s increasingly recognised that empowering people to take a greater role in managing their healthcare is beneficial for both patients and healthcare professionals, especially for those living with long term conditions. Evidence shows that many people enjoy taking an active role in their treatment, and that doing so can lead to better outcomes and improved quality of life.

Take the example of people living with kidney disease, 20 000 of whom receive dialysis in the UK each year. Kidney dialysis is an essential but demanding procedure, which removes waste and excess fluid from the blood. It usually takes three to four hours at a time, three times a week. more…

Will Stahl-Timmins: Data visualisation is beautiful

21 Nov, 14 | by BMJ Group

will_Stahl-TimminsDavid McCandless’s talk at the Royal Statistical Society

David McCandless is perhaps the best ­known information graphic designer of our time. He exploded onto the design stage a few years ago with the coffee­ table book Information is Beautiful, based on the corresponding blog website of the same name. The website now also hosts the Information is Beautiful Awards, which has just announced its third set of winners. He has recently released a second book, Knowledge is Beautiful, and has been giving a number of talks to showcase the new work contained within this colourful tome.

As The BMJ’s resident data graphics designer, I dutifully booked myself a seat at his talk at the Royal Statistical Society to see what health­ related graphics he might be presenting. more…

The BMJ Today: Sex, babies, and future plans

21 Nov, 14 | by BMJ

sally_carterI don’t get out much, but with blogs like the one by Nigel Hawkes to read, I don’t feel I need to. It gave me a great picture of the latest exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in London, which is about sexuality and the scientists who studied it . He writes, “ . . . at the heart of the exhibition are the sexual explorers, from Magnus Hirschfeld to Masters and Johnson.” And they seem a strange bunch. more…

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