Category: Clinical

Why have an operation if you can avoid one?

George Ampat is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon hoping to help patients find non-surgical solutions. Why have an operation if you can avoid one? It’s a simple question with an obvious answer but increasingly surgery is being used where it may not be necessary. There is a general consensus amongst the general public that surgery is a “fix all” solution; but, by and large, this is not the case. Unfortunately the onus of explaining the risks of surgical interventions and the potential lack of benefit following surgical intervention solely rests on the surgeon. The Medical Director of NHS England, Sir...

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Tasked based medicine and the generalist

Perhaps I have had a run of bad experiences but I sometimes feel that our secondary care colleagues are beginning to act as technicians and not physicians, directing themselves to a particular task to rule in or rule out a particular diagnosis, and ignoring the fact that the patient is suffering from symptoms, not from a diagnosis. For instance, you may refer a patient complaining of acute onset shortness of breath to the medical team, querying a PE, to have them sent back to you with ‘no exertional desaturation, d-dimer negative, no evidence of PE’. So now you find...

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Next GP Journal Club is Sunday 3rd July at 8pm: migraine and CV disease in women

The next GP Journal Club will be discussing the BMJ paper: Migraine and risk of cardiovascular disease in women: prospective cohort study by Kurth et al.  You can download it here. Migraine occurs in 15% of the UK adult population and is three times more common in women. This large cohort study from the US suggests that female migraine sufferers are at increased risk of experiencing cardiovascular events. What will this mean for those of us in primary care who have responsibility for managing cardiovascular risk? Should we be advising all female migraine sufferers to take a statin, for instance? Please...

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Shared medical appointments: better by the dozen

A great deal of medicine is education.  The title ‘doctor’ is derived from the Latin word for teacher. Before getting that title, I spent three years working as a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) teacher: first in Spain, and then with VSO in Eritrea. I’m no expert educationalist; but I learnt enough to see that a 1:1 interaction is often not the best way to impart complex information. In general practice, I see patients exclusively on a 1:1 basis, in short 10 minute bursts. I have to explain and discuss difficult concepts, and am often left frustrated...

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Casting down the pseudo-religion of clinical examination

The glass bounced off my back and smashed into the drinks gantry shattering a whisky bottle. All I remember is the glass, the blood and that terrible screaming. Glass fights are dangerous, especially as barman, and for $1.80 an hour I often wondered if it was worth it. But it had its compensations for it was the best practical module on communication skills I ever had and I have used my experiences everyday of my medical career. Teaching undergraduates for the last 10 years I have enjoyed regaling them with my ‘pub communication’ stories. I am convinced of the...

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