Tag Archives: Hump-day cock-ups

Hump-day cock-ups – Médecins sans responsabilité

Most medical residents are irresponsible jerks to their patients, a recent paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association has found. In a self-reported study of 537 respondents, 60% of second and third year medical residents admitted to turning up to work while sick; 31% more than once. In one hospital, 100% of the respondents were guilty of what has been termed presenteeism (as opposed to absenteeism).

James Kleinig doing the right thing (Picture taken by Thomas Tu)

Anonymous questionaires were handed out to 744 medical residents in 12 different hospitals. The critical questions included “Were there occasions that you think you should have taken time off for illness, but did not do so?” and “Did your schedule permit adequate time to see a physician regarding your health?” to which more than 50% responded “No”.

While it may be easy (and fun) to criticise the doctors alone, the authors note that the culture of doctoring probably plays a big role. “Misplaced dedication, lack of an adequate coverage system, or fear of letting down teammates” were suggested to be the reasons behind students coming in when they shouldn’t. I myself have falled prey to coming into the lab when sick because I have an outstandingly interesting experiment to do. But then again, I’m not dealing with potentially immunosuppressed patients that could die from the flu I had. Also, any mistakes I make from being under the weather aren’t very likely to kill anyone. The students still do need to take personal responsibility for their patients.

In conclusion, if you’re a medical doctor and you’re sick, stay the hell home.

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Reference

Jena AB, Baldwin DC Jr, Daugherty SR, Meltzer DO, & Arora VM (2010). Presenteeism among resident physicians. JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association, 304 (11), 1166-8 PMID: 20841527

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Hump-day cock-ups – Q fever at SA pathology

OK, guys. Medical science is awesome. Medical scientists have saved more lives through washing hands, antibiotics and vaccines than all the wars in humankind have taken. We have wiped smallpox off the face of the earth and are going well with polio and TB. BUT, that isn’t to say all scientists are great. Just like every field, there are fantastic people who have cancer-curing lightning shoot out of their arse and people who are wastes of carbon. Human stupidity is a disease of sorts and I thought it would be a good idea to explore some of the cock-ups scientists have made in a new series of articles that I’ve dubbed “Hump-day Cock-ups“.

 

First up is a topical news story that happened just across the road from us. A couple of weeks ago, the bacteria causing Q fever was releasedout into the open and at least two people (apparently and anecdotally four people now, but I’m not paid enough for journalistic integrity) ended up sick from it. Thankfully, they both recovered. This is basically the equivalent to The Army accidentally dropping a loaded M16 out onto the street. It is a Very Big Bad Thing. I’ll explain why. Continue reading

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