The BMJ Today: Handwashing, Medicare, and radiology shortages

A severe lack of specialist radiology training is failing children in the UK, an audit by the Royal College of Radiologists has found. The audit, undertaken in July this year, discovered that 35% of children’s radiographs and scans were performed by radiographers who had not received specific training in imaging children and that a similar percentage of scans were interpreted by radiologists with less than six months’ training in a specialist paediatric centre.

The president of the RCR, Giles Maskell, has said that “these findings are deeply concerning” and that “if missed or mistaken diagnoses are to be avoided, it is essential that all hospitals taking x rays and scans of children can access a specialist’s opinion as and when they need it.”


medicareIt was also revealed today that US federal health insurance plan Medicare could massively curtail its yearly expenditure if it were allowed to negotiate with drug makers on its own behalf, writes US correspondent Michael McCarthy.

A new policy briefing paper, released by Marc-André Gagnon at Carleton University and Sidney Wolfe of advocacy group Public Citizen, argues that up to $16bn could be saved if Medicare, like Medicaid and the Veterans Benefits Administration, were able to use its purchasing power to secure lower prices.

But despite its financial hindrances, McCarthy also adds in an additional news piece that Medicare’s patient outcomes have considerably improved in the past two decades.


Nantasit Luangasanatip, health economist and PhD student at Mahidol University, handhygiene_0Bangkok, and colleagues evaluated the efficacy of hand hygiene promotion among healthcare workers in hospital settings in a research paper. A review of related studies by the World Health Organization found that standard compliance with health hygiene among healthcare workers was on average just 38.7%.

A linked personal view from Layla McCay at the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing explores the notion that using emotionally motivating campaigns, similar to those used during the Ebola crisis, could help to raise awareness of hand hygiene beyond the hospital doors.

Emma Hayes is publishing administrator, The BMJ.