You don't need to be signed in to read BMJ Blogs, but you can register here to receive updates about other BMJ products and services via our site.

The BMJ Today: How UK doctors should “be prepared” for Ebola

11 Aug, 14 | by BMJ

“The ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the largest and most complicated that the world has even seen.”

It is from this starting point that a group of experts begin their summation of how healthcare professionals in the UK can prepare themselves for what the World Health Organization has declared a “public health emergency of international concern.”

The Editorial, published today on, summarises how new and existing guidance can be practically applied by British medical professionals if they are faced with the virus. more…

The BMJ Today: Combating Ebola, and more on statins

8 Aug, 14 | by BMJ

matt_billingsleyThis morning the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Ebola outbreak in West Africa an international health emergency and stated that a concerted international response is required to stop and reverse the spread of the disease. The Ebola epidemic presents a quandary for the medical community.

In the absence of evidence based treatments, should experimental medicines be used to combat the disease? This question follows the news that two American doctors who have contracted Ebola have been given an unapproved serum called Zmapp, and the first European to contract the disease – a Spanish priest – might also be given it too. more…

Pritpal S Tamber: Understanding what communities really value

7 Aug, 14 | by BMJ

There is nothing more convincing than someone citing research, and yet we often don’t know if what’s being cited is any good. Research can be bad if it’s poorly conducted or if the wrong evaluative method was used to answer the question. The methods we use in healthcare are often quite limited, especially when it comes to community interventions. This is why I have been working with the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to open up what we mean by evaluation. We’re holding a potentially groundbreaking meeting on 27 August: “Designing Evaluations for What Communities Value.”

The alleged gold standard in evaluation is the randomised controlled trial, so much so that one often hears people try to convince on the basis of “RCT evidence.” This lazy citing of a method is one sure way to detect that someone doesn’t know what he or she is talking about (venture capitalists, take note) because a randomised trial is not always appropriate for the question being answered. more…

Chris Hopson: NHS waiting times—the long and the short of it

7 Aug, 14 | by BMJ

chris_hopsonHealth secretary Jeremy Hunt’s speech earlier this week, which called on NHS hospitals to clear their backlog of patients waiting more than a year for treatment, rightly pointed to the personal consequences of each individual case on the waiting list. While recognising that some delays are the result of patient choice or good clinical reasons, waiting for treatment if you are immobile, in discomfort, or in pain can be distressing and debilitating—the more so the longer the wait.

That’s why the Foundation Trust Network (FTN) and its members strongly welcomed the government’s pledge in June of £250m (€314m; $421m) to reduce waiting lists, and the £400m (€504m; $674m) announced at the same time to support the urgent and emergency care pathway this winter. The FTN has consistently called for extra funding to improve patient care and for any announcements to be made as far in advance as possible. We also recognise how difficult it is for health ministers to find such funding at the moment, given the need to reduce the overall budget deficit. more…

The BMJ Today: Boring can be beautiful

7 Aug, 14 | by BMJ

sally_carterMary E Black’s blog on making data beautiful caught my eye this morning. As a technical editor at The BMJ I see a lot of tables, graphs, plots, and charts. I don’t want to put my job at risk, but I’ve got to agree with Mary when she writes that many of these representations of data are boring.

In her blog, she gives us her “top 10 inspirations for glorious data displays.” A world of books, talks, blogs, websites, and hackathons and jams opens up. As Mary writes, “Given that data, and in particular big data, is inevitable, exciting, inspiring, unlocks potential, has fabulous hidden patterns, is a game changer, is a huge business opportunity, can mobilise resources, can change our organisations and our lives forever . . . why does it have to be so BORING?”

And with the importance of data in mind, The BMJ has just published three research papers. more…

Lavanya Malhotra: India’s lost girls and doctors’ complicity

6 Aug, 14 | by BMJ

Lavanya MalhotraAccording to India’s 2011 census, the sex ratio in India was 943 women for every 1000 men. Yet a recent report by the United Nations reveals that the child sex ratio in India has declined from 927 girls for every 1000 boys in 2001, to 918 in 2011. Behind this statistic, the report points out, are the clinics and medical practitioners “directly mediating sex ratios at birth via sex selection.”

Historically, Indian couples tended to keep on having children until they had produced at least one son or two. In 1974, in an effort to slow down the growth of India’s rapidly booming population, Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences said that Indian women no longer needed to produce endless children until they bore the right number of sons. Instead, the institute encouraged the determination and elimination of female fetuses. Sex determination followed by abortion would at least dissuade couples from producing extra daughters. This stand might have been conducive to curbing accelerated population growth, but it certainly didn’t help the cause of saving female children. more…

The BMJ Today: What good are doctors?

6 Aug, 14 | by BMJ

Call it an exercise in reflective learning or a sign of deep insecurity, but articles like Richard Smith’s latest blog (“I hate going to the doctor“) always make me (mentally) replay my most recent consultations as a GP. I can’t always be certain that seeing me helped those patients, although I know that many have made an impact on me.

Much of what we do is about connecting with people, and results aren’t always tangible. Brian Secemsky recounts one such encounter, where further followup, rather than an early, quick fix, led to much more than a useful solution for his patient. He concludes, “perhaps outcomes wouldn’t have changed and costly resources wouldn’t have been utilized,” but “the amazing relationship that has evolved . . . would not have come to fruition without going beyond the automated pleasantries of etiquette based medicine.” more…

Mary E Black: Data is really beautiful

6 Aug, 14 | by BMJ

maryeblack copyMy whine of the week, if not the decade . . .

Given that data, and in particular big data, is inevitable, exciting, inspiring, unlocks potential, has fabulous hidden patterns, is a game changer, is a huge business opportunity, can mobilise resources, can change our organisations and our lives forever . . . why does it have to be so BORING?

We are in the midst of a complete storm of data production, and yet still mired in the murky prehistoric depths of PowerPoint presentations, Word and Excel tables, and badly presented pie charts.

It does not have to be that way. So, from an unashamed data geek who is completely sick of tepid PowerPoint presentations, here are my top 10 inspirations for glorious data displays. 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…

Rachael Addicott and Kieran Walshe: How do CQC hospital inspections measure up?

5 Aug, 14 | by BMJ

rachael-addicottOver the past few years, we have seen several high profile failures of care in NHS acute hospitals in England, leading many in the system to question the ability of performance management and regulatory mechanisms to identify and act on poor performance.

Last year, in response to these events and concerns, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) developed a new model for inspecting and regulating NHS acute hospitals, and commissioned a team from Manchester Business School and the King’s Fund to evaluate this new and evolving approach as they rolled it out. more…

BMJ blogs homepage


Helping doctors make better decisions. Visit site

Creative Comms logo

Latest from The BMJ

Latest from The BMJ

Latest from BMJ podcasts

Latest from BMJ podcasts

Blogs linking here

Blogs linking here