Monday, October 31, 2005

Venue change for Purple Coat Club

The PCC meeting tomorrow night will now take place in R1 on the Imperial College Charing Cross campus, at 7.30.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Interested in Surgery?

There is a Minimally Invasive Surgery Evening on Thursday 3rd November in the Reynolds (Drewe Lecture Theatre).
Barry Paraskeva and Raj Agarwal will be there from Prof Darzi's team at Mary's as well as Alun Davies (Surgeon at CX) and Prof Bailey (President of the Association of Laparoscopic Surgeons) all talking about the future of minimally invasive surgery and what kind of things we can already do.
Should be an interesting evening.
Starts at 6pm and free drinks and nibbles will be provided after the meeting courtesy of the MPS

For more info contact

The Old Hippocratic Oath - 425 BC

This is from Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine:

I swear by Apollo the physician, and Aesculapius and Health and All-heal, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this oath and stipulation - to reckon him who taught me this Art equally dear to me as my parents, to share my substance with him, and relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his offspring in the same footing as my own brothers, and to teach them this Art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation, and that by percept, lecture, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by stipulation and oath according to the law of medicine, but to none other.

I will follow that system of regimen, which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous.

I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion. With purity and holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art.

I will not cut persons labouring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of the work. Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every act of mischief and corruption; and, further, from the seduction of females, or males, of freeman or slaves.

Whatever, in connection with my professional practice, not in connection with it, I see or hear, in the life of men, which ought not to be spoken of abroad, I will not divulge, as reckoning that all such shall be kept secret.

While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and the practice of the Art, respected by all men, in all times. But should I trespass and violate this Oath, may the reverse be my lot.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Declaration of a Doctor

Read by all new doctors at the graduation yesterday:

Now, as a new doctor, I solemnly promise that I will to the best of my ability serve humanity; caring for the sick, preventing disease, promoting good health, and alleviating pain and suffering.

I recognise that the practice of medicine is a privelege with which comes considerable responsibility and I will not abuse my position.

I will practice medicine with integrity, humanity, honesty and compassion; working with my fellow doctors and other colleagues to meet the needs of my patients.

I shall never intentionally do or administer anything to the overall harm of my patients.

I will not permit considerations of gender, race, religion, politial affiliation, sexual orientation, nationality, or social standing to influence my duty of care.

I will oppose policies in breach of human rights and will not participate in them. I will strive to change laws that are contrary to my profession's ethics and will work towards a fairer distribution of health resources.

I will assist my patients to make informed decisions that coincide with their own values and beliefs and will uphold patient confidentiality.

I will recognise the limits of my knowledge and seek to maintain and increase my understanding and skills throughout my professional life. I will acknowledge and try to remedy my own mistakes and honestly assess and respond to those of others.

I will seek to promote the advancement of medical knowledge through teaching and research.

I make this declaration solemnly, freely and upon my honour.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Diane Arbus: Revelations

Recommended by the lovely Ann-Marie:

Running from 13th October 2005 - 15th January 2006 at the V&A is a retrospective exhibition of '50s photographer Diane Arbus' most important work. Her work has been described as 'contemporary anthropology' and juxtaposes stereotypes in New York in the 19-50s and -60s. A fascinating freakshow?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Clegg Scholarship

The Clegg Scholarship is a paid 8 week experience in Medical Journalism at the BMJ offices in Tavistock Sq, WC1. It can be done as part of an elective and you have the opportunity to earn £1200, a great help toward student debt!

Students ought to have previous writing experience but can apply at any stage of their medical career...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

It's good to chat

Further support for the 'interactive' model of communication in medicine reported on the BBC website today: a study has shown that patients benefited in a variety of ways from using websites that provide peer support in the form of chat rooms or discussion boards. Those that aim to be purely informative were less helpful.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Purple Coat Club news

The Purple Coat Club meeting this month has been put back to Tuesday, 1 November, which means you have time still to read the book under discussion: 'The House of God' by Samuel Shem. It's the sort of book which will either delight or horrify you, and there is bound to be lively debate about the way in which it depicts the medical profession. So that's Tuesday, 1 November, 7.30 pm, in the Sir Alex Fleming building, Imperial College, the room ajoining MDL1. We'll combine it with a 'show and tell'. I intend to bring along a hysterical bedside routine from TV series, 'The Singing Detective'.

Then, AJ is organising a trip to see 'When You Cure Me' at the Bush Theatre in Shepherd's Bush on 22 November. Tickets are just £6 for students. A pre-theatre dinner is in the offing as well. E-mail AJ directly to put your name down.

We've realised that it is going to be a lot easier for students to come to the PCC if we have it at the beginning of the month rather than at the end when rotations are usually wrapping up and there are exams and such. So from next year, we'll be meeting on the first Thursday of every month rather than the last Tuesday. Please check the sidebar for dates and events.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off

On Sunday night I was watching Channel 4's '50 Greatest Documentaries' (fascinating - number one was 49up which I blogged a week or two ago) and whilst it stirred up interest in a number of films, it showed one in particular directly after the programme, called 'The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off'.

It tells the story of Jonny Kennedy, a 36 year old man trapped in the body of a boy whose skin detaches from his body with slight trauma, the increased skin turnover eventually giving rise to cancerous change. This condition is known as 'Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB)', and the film charts Jonny's last four months leading up to the send-off he is planning for himself. In the time remaining to him, Jonny promotes his charity Debra and we learn a little of what life is like for a sufferer of this condition.

The documentary is very saddening and raw at times, leading one to question how detached a documentary film-maker ought to be in such a scenario. What makes such a depressing topic so watchable is Jonny's cheeky sense of humour, and his nonchalant attitude towards death. But the film achieves its main aim of raising awareness of the condition, with over half a million pounds worth of donations having been received since the film was first aired in March 2004.


A post on behalf on Anjali:

Crusaid’s fourth art exhibition, ARTAID 05, is to take place at the Royal College of Art on Thursday 13th October.

ARTAID 05 is a collection of personal statements on the global HIV and AIDS crisis which seeks to unravel the stigma and discrimination surrounding the virus and plays a critical part in raising awareness of HIV and AIDS.

New artists contributing include Michelle Prazak, Thierry Bal, Anne Urquhart and Richard Cuerden, who will appear alongside established artists such as Tracey Emin.

For more details and to reserve your place, call the events team on 020 7539 3896 during office hours or email

Friday, October 07, 2005

Surgical drawing

Don't miss the start of a major new arts series, Secret of Drawing, on BBC2 on Saturday, 20.10 to 21.10. The first episode includes a discussion with surgeon Frances Wells as he explores the link between drawing and surgery. Frances not only draws his own operations but is also an expert on Leonardo da Vinci’s anatomical drawings. Indeed, he has even used da Vinci’s drawing of the heart as the basis of a pioneering new form of surgery.

Battle lines are drawn

The Institute of Ideas, which likes to rattle cages, is hosting an event called 'The Battle of Ideas'. It takes place at the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London, SW7 on 29 - 30 October 2005.

There are six themes (Books, Community, Culture, Education, Health, International Relations), but the Battle for Health takes place on Sunday. One of the speakers in the debate on 'Ethics on Trial' includes our own Richard Ashcroft, Professor of Medical Ethics at Imperial. Other speakers include Ray Tallis, Professor of Geriatric Medicine at the University of Manchester, and Simon Crompton and Jane Clarke both of The Times.

Institute of Ideas' events are always a bit like R4's 'Start the Week' with bells and whistles. Well worth getting fired up about.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bedside Stories - Review

What was obviously an addictive and amusing column makes an uneasy transition to paperback here in Michael Foxton's novel, a compilation of his writings during his two-year stint at the Guardian.

Foxton (a nom-de-plume) tells - with gory detail and sensational revelation - of the highs and lows of his life as a Junior Doctor, and his passage from first day as a PRHO, through his rotations (including A+E), culminating with his SHO post in Psychiatry.

Sceptics might claim Foxton tends towards the negative, but having set the standard it is usually difficult, especially in the media, for a leopard to change its spots. The negative side is always going to be the more interesting, the more passionate, and the easier to divulge.

Foxton is amusing, irreverent, pessimistic, bleak, yet insightful. He is unashamed to admit mistakes, which as a reader I found compelling. He is unafraid to lift the mystery surrounding the profession and yet still seems to retain a sense of right and wrong. As a medical student, I found myself relieved that others sometimes feel as bewildered and unconfident as I do - but also that eventually these disappear with experience and age.

Foxton will not appeal to all due to his opinionated nature, and some may feel the book is more of a rant than a story. Indeed 'Bedside Stories' seems an odd choice for a collection of columns that lack cohesion. Links become repetitive and similar points are expressed that make for awkward continuity between passages. At the end of the book, Foxton explains why he stops writing, but then we are presented with an extra column about Gunther Von Hagen's live dissection on TV which provides a clumsy conclusion to the book, which I felt shouldn't have been included, not being in keeping with the other segments.

Overall I enjoyed this book for its dark humour and for the cynical approach to the trade I am to join. I feel any doctor would likely enjoy the book for its 'we've all been there before' mentality, but nurses, social workers and other healthcare professionals may feel Foxton arrogant and difficult to digest. I hope my career is not quite as exhausting and persecuting as his!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Humour Prescription

A man was hit by a sofa, a pillow and a cushion.

A hospital spokesman described his condition as "comfortable".

(courtesy of popbitch)