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conferences and talks

Helen Macdonald: Too much medicine—not a NICE business

23 Sep, 14 | by BMJ

helen_macDavid Haslam, chair of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, anticipated a difference of opinion as he addressed his audience at the Preventing Overdiagnosis conference last week. He knew that the audience would bring it up eventually, so he went head on into the controversial NICE guideline that lowered the threshold for cardiovascular risk prevention strategies in July—and more specifically made around one in four UK adults eligible for medical treatment with a statin.

He wrote in the conference programme that the dilemma posed by over and under diagnosis crossed “all manner of practical and ethical minefields.” I imagined that Haslam, as a medical leader of a major medical institution, would be in the midst of that minefield with his sleeves rolled up. But it seemed that his role at NICE simplified things, and instead he tiptoed uncomfortably around the edge. He said that the remit of NICE was to analyse the science and cost effectiveness only. The practical and ethical minefield that the guidelines created seemed not to be a NICE problem. more…

Emma Parish: Risky Business 2014—I choose to be optimistic

23 Sep, 14 | by BMJ

Emma-ParishLeaving the Risky Business event I was abuzz with enthusiasm to “choose my attitude,” “listen to the right people,” and treat patient safety “like lives depend on it.” However, it was not all buzzwords, tweeting, and chatting with celebrity speakers. It was a packed day, with lots of emotive content and key messages to change the current approach to healthcare.

Debra Searle’s description of her 3300 mile solo quest across the Atlantic, and her determination to survive to see her family, was inspirational. She was able to skilfully link her approach on that journey to the daily motivation needed to fulfil tasks and highlight how empowering choosing the right attitude can be. more…

Desmond O’Neill: Ageing, astronauts, and organists in Rotterdam

23 Sep, 14 | by BMJ

desmond_oneill“Le frime” is an almost untranslatable French word for doing something that seems superfluous for the fun of it. It is as good a term as any for the opening ceremonies of our European Union Geriatric Medicine Society conferences. These reflect how individual nations put their best foot forward for guests. While the content may at first sight seem to be tangential to the core business of geriatric medicine, linkages appear with reflection.

And so it was in Rotterdam last week, with a line up including an astronaut/physician, the city organist, a retired Dutch prime minister, and silent movies (old and new). The setting was the magnificent De Doelen concert hall, in a futuristic city centre with an iconic and dramatic train station that opened this year.

The presentation from Dr André Kuipers was witty, entertaining, and informative. Space medicine offers insights into accelerated forms of ageing syndromes, particularly osteoporosis and sarcopaenia; the responses, particularly through exercise, were very relevant to the science of geriatric medicine. more…

Duncan Jarvies: Preventing Overdiagnosis 2014—I am not legion

16 Sep, 14 | by BMJ

I’m against overdiagnosis, overcooked food, and over long films, said David Haslam, chair of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

All of us probably agree—especially when it comes to overcooked food—which is part of the problem.

At the Preventing Overdiagnosis conference in Oxford, the big topics are diabetes, hypertension, and statins. Lifestyle diseases that we are regularly treating, with the aim of reducing incidence, even where treatment will make very little difference to individual patients. more…

Iñaki Martínez Nimatuj and Mónica Garcia Asensio: A pharma free medical conference

6 Aug, 14 | by BMJ

Iñaki Martínez NimatujOsatzen is the Basque Family Physicians Scientific Society and part of the federation semFYC (the Spanish Family Physicians Society). It is composed of 900 GP partners who pay an annual fee of €66. Our main goal is to generate and share scientific knowledge, and—for that reason—we prioritise transparency, objectivity, and autonomy in both our own scientific activities and in those we attend.

In Spain the presence of Big Pharma is very common at most medical congresses, where in exchange for funding they choose the space, time, and content of their lecture, in which their speakers seldom declare their existing conflicts of interest. more…

Aser Garcia Rada: The resurgence of HIV/ AIDS in Europe—let’s focus on priorities

23 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

Aser García Rada_BMJI was recently invited to a meeting on HIV/AIDS that was hosted in Athens by the European Commission. Although the grass is greener on the EU side, the epidemic still poses relevant challenges. Contrary to the overall global decline in new HIV infections, 29 381 people were newly diagnosed across the EU in 2012, 1% more than in 2011. Late presenters represent 49% of new diagnoses. In the WHO European region—which includes Central Asia—131 202 new cases were reported (8% higher than in 2011). On the whole, 2.2m people live with HIV in the European region, with around half of those people unaware that they are infected. more…

Georg Roeggla: Nobel laureates meet young scientists

10 Jul, 14 | by BMJ

georg_roegglaThe 64th meeting of Nobel laureates in the field of medicine and physiology ended on 4 July, 2014. Thirty seven Nobel laureates and more than 600 selected young scientists from 80 countries participated in this week in Lindau, Bavaria. The objective of this meeting was to bring Nobel laureates and young researchers together to exchange ideas. Therefore, the main focus was the discussions of the Nobel laureates with the assembled young scientists, and embedded into this were a variety of speeches on hot topics in international research. more…

Michael Seres: A patient included conference with a difference

25 Jun, 14 | by BMJ

Michael_seresOften health events, conferences, and meetings say that they include patients and they do. Well, sort of. They have patients there except they are not really there. The Doctors 2.0 & You conference is different: it really is a patient included conference. What strikes you from the moment it starts is that patients are an integral part of every session, workshop, and keynote.

Day one opened with a series of workshops that ranged from startup pitches, to the quantified self and e-patients, to one on the quality of data, which I chaired.

Arguably, the standout moment came when The BMJ‘s very own Tessa Richards talked about the journal’s patient panel. I was sitting next to Larry Chu (@larrychu) from Stanford Medicine and the MedX conference. Larry turned to me and said that he could never imagine an American journal of the standing of The BMJ doing the same. So there is my challenge to you guys on the other side of the pond. When will your leading medical journals establish a patient panel? more…

Rhys Davies: Women’s Rights are Human Rights

16 May, 14 | by BMJ

“How many women does it take to change a light bulb?

One, but she may need to get a ladder or stand on a chair first.”

As a straight white male, I am, as writer John Scalzi puts it, playing life on easy mode. I don’t have to look for long to see how much more difficult this great game can be. Here are just a few glimpses of what life can be like as a woman in 2014.

In Nigeria, the militant group Boko Haram kidnapped more than 200 girls from their school last month. Nigerian women began the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls to raise the issue in the West, but I’m not sure that David Cameron holding it up on a sign on Sunday morning television is quite the result they were going for. more…

Richard Smith: We need “disease” to make us healthy

23 Dec, 13 | by BMJ

Richard SmithHealth, says the WHO, is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. But could it be that some sort of infirmity is essential for being healthy? more…

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