BACK TO Home Page 50 CONVERSATION TOPICS Health Medicine Hospitals and Doctors

Stories you can use to start conversation or to add interest to speeches or presentations

Resources for Speakers - Anecdotes About Health and Medicine, Hospitals, Doctors and Nurses

Unusual Treatments - Leeches and Health

>Leeches (to relieve joint pain) and maggots (to clean out dead flesh) and worms (pig worms for irritable bowel syndrome) - pig whipworm doesn't last long in human stomach - researchers noticed IBS virtually unknown countries where parasitic infections common.

More human deaths have been attributed to FLEAS than all the wars ever fought. As carriers of the bubonic plague, fleas were responsible for killing one third of the population of Europe in the 14th century.


A device has been developed that can kill 100 mosquitoes per/sec up to 100 feet away using infra-red motion sensing and a blue laser. The idea came about after Bill Gates requested help to fight mosquito-spread Malaria in underdeveloped countries. Production cost is around $50.

Kidney Stones and Health

Kidney stones rated worst pain, but treatment illustrates the medical wisdom that for every problem there is a simple, obvious, easily understood solution - which is 100% wrong:
Kidney stones are calcium, so the 'obvious' answer is to avoid calcium in diet - in fact opposite: if have lots of calcium in (natural) diet, you get less kidney stones (but no effect if get calcium from pills)

Transplants and Health

Guy in US got so fed up waiting for kidney from official donor lists that advertised on Internet - within 3 months had 500 offers

Weight Training Exercise and Health

Men with stronger muscles from regular weight training are up to 40 per cent less likely to die from cancer than men who do not pump iron, according to new research. Pharma cos have found that the more a pain killer is advertised, the more effective it becomes. And, benefits kick in in 5 minutes, which is phys imposs.

Organ Donors

There was fake Dutch reality show named De Grote Donorshow, where patients competed for a dying woman's kidney. It was created with the intention of raising awareness about the lack of organ donors. Six weeks after the show aired 12,000 new donors had signed up.

Three ways to increase donors - make it the default option on driver's licence, give registered donors priority if need an organ themselves, and, more controversially, if you sign to stop a dead relative's organs being harvested, you go to the bottom of the queue.

Blue Vison Viagra

Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra can cause a person to see everything tinted with blue. This is referred to as Cyanopsia or blue vision.

Blame Evo

Many human ailments, such as lower back pain, hernias, prolapsed uteruses and our susceptibility to sinus infections result directly from the fact that we now walk upright with a body that was shaped to walk on all fours.

Vaccines, Vaccinations and Health

Like all conspiracy theorists, the anti-vaxers seem to jump through some monstrous mental hoops in order to cling to their treasured idea that vaccines are evil. In one fell swoop they implicate the entire worldwide healthcare profession, the CDC, the WHO, the health authorities of every government in the world in some grand conspiracy, and to what aim is this sinister worldwide cabal supposed to be dedicated? Make a whole generation of autistic kids? It's either that or they do not trust the overwhelming majority of healthcare professionals, immunologists etc to do their jobs properly - and instead listen to lone, discredited quacks like Andrew Wakefield.

In 2000,the Centers for Disease Control declared that measles had been eliminated in the U.S., but by 2014 Americans had resurrected it (677 reported cases), and researchers from Emory University and Johns Hopkins set out to learn how--and recently found the dominant reason to be the purposeful decision by some Americans to refuse or delay widely-available vaccinations (especially for their children). (The researchers found similar, but less-strong conclusions about "whooping cough.")

In the 1980s, a team in New York showed that an enzyme from green coffee beans could remove the B antigen from red blood cells, turning any blood type into group O, the universal donor.

Your veins look blue because subcutaneous fat only allows blue light to penetrate skin all the way to veins, so this is the color that is reflected back.

Tuberculosis has killed some of the most influential people in history. Popular names include Pocahontas, George Orwell, Andrew Jackson, Franz Kafka, Jane Austin, John Smith, Frederic Chopin, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

Obesity and Health

A survey of people hospitalized because of swine flu in California has raised the possibility that obesity is as much of a risk factor for serious complications from the flu as diabetes, heart disease and pregnancy, all known to raise a person's risk.

Riding roller coaster helps pass kidney stones.

The Heart Attack Grill

A restaurant named “The Heart Attack Grill” is hospital themed with scantily clad nurse waitresses serving the “Quadruple Bypass Burger” loaded with 9,982 calories. A customer died of a heart attack while eating there, resulting in customers taking photos of him assuming it was a stunt.

Blocked Nose?

My solution is to drink very cold drinks while sucking an ice cube against the roof of my mouth. Blocked noses are caused largely by swollen blood vessels in your nasal cavity, so getting some ice near them will cause them to contract a little. Also I avoid hot drinks. They only make it worse. Which is annoying because a blocked nose is usually joined by a sore throat.

Exercise and Health

Exercise is some boring shit. There are people who have made millions by coming up with something to make boring, repetitive motions just a little bit more entertaining, like those goofy goose-step elliptical machines or big bouncing balls. It is you doing the same things over and over again, till your body gets tired of them and starts to eat itself in exhaustion. There is nothing pleasant about the process unless you can find an enjoyable strenuous activity that has the side-effect of making you lose weight. Sex, or pick-up basketball, or walking the streets looking for prostitutes, or running from Wal-Mart security, are more entertaining that your usual thing.

Kidney Stones

A 2016 study found that the Thunder Mountain roller coaster at Disney World reliably makes people pass kidney stones.

A cure?

Until 1940 the best cure for syphilis was malaria

Abortion Pills

Australia and the Canadian province of British Columbia allow women to get abortion pills by mail after consulting with a physician or other health care provider via phone or the internet. Several international organizations offer mail service in countries where abortion is otherwise unavailable or severely restricted. The oldest group, Women on Web, based in the Netherlands, has provided abortion medications to about 50,000 women in 130 countries since 2006.

Premature babies

Premature babies who are lightly massaged a few times a day gain weight 47% faster and thus leave hospitals sooner, saving about $3,000 in hospital costs. 8 months later these infants continued to thrive.

Exercise and Health

Study published in the December 2006 Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention showed that any exercise is beneficial in preventing breast cancer in women but housework is superior to gym activity.

Health Hospitals and Nursing

Think your job can't be sent to India? Even surgery - in long term it will be tele-surgery done by remote-controlled robots
In the short term medical tourism: Americans facing bank-breaking surgery are flying to India, having the operation done in sparkling new high-tech Indian hospital, seeing the Taj Mahal and flying home, all for a fraction of the US cost
hip replacement $39000 US, $3000 India
heart valve replace $200,000 US $10,000 India (incl airfare)
implications: how long before an Asian can do your job for a fraction of your pay + benefits + pension + insurance.

Routine Cancer Screening and Health Hospitals and Nursing

After decades of focus on the upside of cancer screening, public health experts are increasingly reevaluating the wisdom of administering routine cancer screening tests to millions of asymptomatic people. Though screening certainly saves lives, recent studies make it clear that it also leads to biopsies, surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation -- even some deaths -- that otherwise would not have occurred.

Robots and Health Hospitals and Nursing

"We wanted to do something entirely different," Matar (Yugoslav born robot software designer) told me. She assembled a team of experts in several disciplines: psychology, mechanical engineering, kinesiology, rehabilitation medicine, and neurology. The team members observed Isaac Asimov’s First Law of Robotics: the robot must not injure the patient. They also had to determine what tone of voice was optimal, what type of language the robot should use, how close it should get to the patient - essentially, what kinds of personality and temperament were most effective, and for what kind of patient. The robot would coach the patients orally, rather than physically. (One that physically touched a patient might require approval by the Food and Drug Administration as a device, given the potential safety issues.)

Surviving Radiation

A 93-year-old Japanese man has become the first person certified as a survivor of both U.S. atomic bombings at the end of World War II, officials said Tuesday. Tsutomu Yamaguchi had already been a certified "hibakusha," or radiation survivor, of the Aug. 9, 1945, atomic bombing in Nagasaki, but has now been confirmed as surviving the attack on Hiroshima three days earlier as well, city officials said. Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on a business trip on Aug. 6, 1945, when a U.S. B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on the city. He suffered serious burns to his upper body and spent the night in the city. He then returned to his hometown of Nagasaki just in time for the second attack, city officials said.


Smell test for Altzheimers - first smell you lose is strawberry; then smoke, soap and cloves

In Bedlam patients were shackled to the wall by iron cuffs and treated by shaking the body tissues in a gyrating chair or taking “the bath of surprise”. The patient would walk a plank in which a hole was cleverly concealed. One step too far and, splash, the lunatic fell into the freezing cold water.

The color of a placebo pill matters. In a classic study, researchers randomized patients to receive different colored placebo pills for pain relief. They found that red placebo pills "worked" the best.

If you need a sterile surface, grab a newspaper.

Using Dogs in Hospitals

And dogs can be trained to detect changes in owner's smell which indicates epileptic seizures.


Northern Ireland's Belfast Telegraph reported in April that a man was hospitalized after throwing bricks at the front windows of a PIPS office (Public Initiative for Prevention of Suicide and Self Harm). He was injured by brick-bounceback, off the shatterproof glass.

Mosquito Repellents

In light of the seriousness of the Zika situation, a new study has been published giving exhaustive results comparing different types of mosquito repellents. The conclusion? Really the only things that work at all are repellents containing metofluthrin or a lot of DEET. "All natural" repellents (citronella, geraniol, essential oils) have little or no effect. Some were even worse than nothing at all. The best performing repellents are the OFF! Clip-on which emits a fog of metofluthrin, Ben's Tick & Insect Repellent which contains a 98% DEET solution, and Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus, which although its marketing focuses on its "oil of lemon eucalyptus" ingredient, its repellent effect comes from PMD (menthoglycol).

Electronic repellents, said to scare away mosquitoes with sound, had no effect at all. The other losers were all the herbal compounds, particularly the very popular geraniol, which has no statistical effect. You should also avoid products that contain low concentrations of DEET (40% or less). DEET is great, but only at full strength.

And the worst? Use a citronella candle if you want to actually ATTRACT more mosquitoes.

Smoking and Unhealthy Living

105 year old woman died, of natural causes, in British nursing home having smoked 15 cigs a day since 15 - she also had notoriously unhealthy eating habits - often asking for sugar in her soup - she was cremated holding pack of her favourite B & H.

How To Encourage Healthy habits

Good behaviors like quitting smoking or staying slender or being happy pass from friend to friend almost as if they were contagious viruses. The Framingham participants, the data suggested, influenced one another's health just by socializing. And the same was true of bad behaviors - clusters of friends appear to 'infect' each other with obesity, unhappiness and smoking. Staying healthy isn't just a matter of your genes and your diet, it seems. Good health is also a product, in part, of your sheer proximity to other healthy people.

A small baked potato/150g boiled rice/30g serve of cornflakes - all raise blood glucose levels as muchas tsp of sugar. So just elim all carbs and eat asmuch as like.

Fracture Hips

According to the Irish Osteoporosis Society, one in five people aged 60 or over who fracture a hip will die within six to 12 months due to the secondary complications of osteoporosis. These include blood clots, pneumonia or infection from being bed bound. Half of them will no longer be able to dress, wash or walk unassisted. Only 30% will regain their independence.

Health Hospitals and Nursing

The federal agency that administers Medicare acknowledged to that the government often overpays for patient wheelchairs due to a quirk in its rules. Ordinary wheelchairs sell for $100-$350, but Medicare cannot reimburse patients who buy the chairs; it can only pay for rentals (for up to 13 months), for $40 to $135 a month. (A 2009 audit fround that Medicare allowed up to $7,215 for oxygen dispensers that were available for sale for $587 and $4,018 for a power wheelchair that cost suppliers $1,048.)

Medical Treatment

Whatever therapy used, 1/3 get better, 1/3 improve a little and 1/3 no improvement - it isn't the therapy itself that works, it's the mental dynamics of the doctor/patient interaction.

Tooth Decay in Very Young Kids

'I have parents tell me all the time, 'No one told us when to go to the dentist, when we should start using fluoride toothpaste' - all this basic information to combat the No. 1 chronic disease in children.' Dentists offer a number of reasons so many preschoolers suffer from such extensive dental decay. Though they are not necessarily new, they have combined to create a growing problem: endless snacking and juice or other sweet drinks at bedtime, parents who choose bottled water rather than fluoridated tap water for their children, and a lack of awareness that infants should, according to pediatric experts, visit a dentist by age 1 to be assessed for future cavity risk, even though they may have only a few teeth.

Not the Best Medical Treatment

Carelessness sometimes begets tragedy, as when motorists survive terrible accidents but then, while awaiting help, they are hit and killed by emergency vehicles. In December, near Ocala, Fla., a 39-year-old driver survived a rollover but was accidentally run over and killed by a responding Marion County sheriff's deputy, and in April in Baldwin Park, Calif., an arriving ambulance fatally struck a 22-year-old accident victim who was, until that moment, not seriously hurt.

It's OK It's Our Religion

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control found 11 instances since 2000 in which ultra-Orthodox circumcision priests (mohelim) had passed along the Herpes Simplex Virus from their saliva when they used the ancient method of blood-removal from the wound by sucking it clean. Responding in September, New York City's Health Department ordered the mohelim to warn parents of the danger and to require written consent for the ritual, but in October, three rabbis and three Jewish organizations challenged the order in federal court, arguing that Jewish law "requires" that particular method of blood removal. (According to the CDC, in 10 of the 11 cases, hospitalization was required, and two boys died.)

Alternative Medicine

Americans frequently cite the rigorous, above-board testing of prescription drugs as one of government's most important functions, and health insurance companies use such seals of approval in policy-coverage decisions. However, some consumers seem to prefer unorthodox, untested, unregulated products and, backed by lobbyists for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), are challenging the insurers for "discriminat[ing]" against these "drugs," especially in the game-changing rules of the new Affordable Care Act. A columnist explained in August what would happen if CAM prevails: "You could start offering dried bird poop for arthritis, call it avian nature therapy,' and if an insurer won't pay for it, you can sue."

Chocolate Helps Recovery

In a study that will provide comfort to chocoholics everywhere, researchers in Sweden have found evidence that people who eat chocolate have increased survival rates after a heart attack - and it may be that the more they eat, the better.

Health and Medical Treatment

One of the most useful health technologies is a cheap pedometer, because carrying one motivates people to walk more

Viagra As A Recreational Drug

Viagra etc has created a whole new class of prescription party medicines.

Misuse of Ambulances and Emergency Services

(Jeremy Clarkson attacking the 'morons' who ring for an ambulance when there is no real emergency): ambulance crews summoned to the assistance of someone whose head is still attached to the body and who does not have gangrene or Ebola should be allowed, if they see fit, to burn the person's house down. Or, if they are kindly souls, to take an item that has roughly the same value as the call-out, so that it can be sold by the NHS on eBay.

Gum Disease and Health

People with gum disease (which is caused by bacteria) also at higher risk clogged arteries and so heart disease - suggestion that gum diseases bacteria spread into bloodstream, stimulating immune system, causing inflammation which leads to clogging.

Warren Buffett Talking About Health

Warren Buffett has never smoked or drunk alcohol. He is, at 78, extremely healthy. One of his homilies to college students is about imagining that a genie appears to you at 16 and offers you a car of your choice. There's only one catch; this is the last car you're ever going to get. "I would read the manual about five times. I would always keep it garaged. If there was the least little dent or scratch, I'd get it fixed right away because I wouldn't want it rusting. I would baby that car because it would have to last a lifetime. That's exactly the position you are in concerning your mind and body."

Gene therapy

Gene therapy marked another successful milestone last week when it was used to completely cure eight of 10 children who had potentially fatal 'bubble boy disease', according to a study that followed their progress for an average of four years after treatment. Formally known as severe combined immunodeficiency, or SCID, the genetic disease causes its carriers to develop non-functional immune systems, typically resulting in death from infection within the first year of life without advanced treatment.

The patients in the study suffered from the second most common form of SCID, arising from a single malfunctioning gene that results in a defective enzyme, adenosine deaminase (ADA). To cure the patients, a sample of marrow cells was removed from their bodies, a virus was used to 'upgrade' the cells with working copies of the gene, and then the cells were injected back into the patients' bodies. After taking residence in the body these enhanced marrow cells were able to proliferate within the patients and supplant the original malfunctioning immune system with a functioning one.

Public Records

"Privacy has been used as an excuse by those who have a vested interest in hoarding this information," Heywood says. He believes that the real reason hospitals jealously guard medical records is they don't want to open themselves up to second-guessing from patients - or patients' lawyers. And that lack of openness, Heywood argues, is making us sicker: With data scarce, there's no clear way for physicians to know what treatments are working for other practitioners.

OnLine Groups

PatientsLikeMe allows people with chronic diseases to create public profiles listing their symptoms, medications, and other details long deemed too sensitive to share. Users can then see how fellow travelers are faring and get leads on promising treatments. The company, meanwhile, anonymizes the data and sells it to medical researchers and drug developers.


Internet a whole new world for hypochondriacs except for one woman who hurt her back binning her 2 volume Doctor's Reference

Health Surfing

* When medical searches start consuming hours of each day, a person might be addicted to internet symptom diagnosis - a cyberchondriac.
* There is a tendency to only look at the first few results and focus on the worst-case scenario - as in brain tumour versus brain freeze for a headache.
* Up to 90 per cent of patients diagnosed with hypochondria also obsessively search the web for information on symptoms and illness.


The Onion (on-line satire fake newspaper " God answers prayers of little crippled boy "No" says god


A case report in a recent issue of the journal Emergency Medicine Australasia described the successful removal of a leech from an eyeball. A 66-year-old woman, gardening in her back yard in Sydney, had accidentally flicked some soil into her eye. By the time a surgeon could extract the leech, it had roughly tripled its body size by feeding on the eyeball's blood vessels. (The key, by the way: a few drops of saline solution).

Catatonics and Cancer

Cancer unknown in catatonics (people who have completely withdrawn from society and its expectations) similarly much lower rates among mentally handicapped


How Vaccines Cause Autism (Link)


Every year, millions of people are diagnosed with cancer - a remarkably high number. But what about the flipside of those statistics? That is, two out of three people never get cancer, and more than half of heavy smokers don't get cancer, either. A recent study points out this overlooked fact, and suggests that researchers might discover something by asking why so many people are resistant to the often deadly disease.

Hospitals and Nursing

US newspaper had to apologise for running story about a mental home burning down (it was empty at time) with headline 'Roasting Nuts'

Hospitals and Nursing

Airlines make fewer mistakes handling baggage than hospitals make dispensing drugs

NZ Accident Compensation Commission paid out $20 milin last 5 years for lawn mower accidents.

Importance of Sunlight and Vitamin D in Health

Research by Australian scientists has shown that spending two or three hours a day outdoors dramatically reduces a child's risk of becoming short-sighted. This, they claim, is because sunlight triggers the release of chemicals that prevent distortion of the eyeball and cause myopia. Advocates of the more old-fashioned, Hairy Palm Theory of diminished eyesight will simply see it as proof that little Australian boys are too shy to masturbate outdoors.

Vitamin D

Keeping out the sun helps prevent skin cancer, but 2 major problems 1) sun block only works to stated effectiveness if you apply a lot - usually about 1/3 bottle each time 2) sunshine allows skin to manufacture Vit D, which is vital in avoiding digestive tract cancers - 60,000 Americans die each year of colorectic cancers, vs 2000 from non-melanoma skin cancer

Vitamin D

Muslim women who wear the burqa in Ireland are at increased risk of pelvic fractures during childbirth because of vitamin D deficiency due to a lack of sunlight Babies born to women with vitamin D deficiency are also more prone to seizures in their first week of life, according to Dr Miriam Casey, of the Osteoporosis Unit in St James's hospital in Dublin. A burqa is an enveloping outer garment worn by some Muslim women. In hot countries, enough sunlight gets through to give them sufficient vitamin D, but this may not happen in countries where there is limited sunshine, such as Ireland and Britain. Darker skins can produce as little as 1% of the vitamin D that fair skins produce. Moreover, studies have found that the rate of many diseases rises the further north one moves, leading researchers to suspect that vitamin D may play a greater role in health than previously thought.

The main natural source of vitamin D is sunlight on the skin. However, there is no ambient ultraviolet sunlight of the appropriate wavelength from mid-October to April in Britain.


Doctor confidentiality (usually necessary because if no trust patient won't confide)
Sydney couple HIV test pre-marriage, husband positive but doctor didn't tell them together and wife sued when baby turned out positive
Californian guy told therapist he wanted to kill a specific girl - no one warned her; family sued when he did kill her
Canadian family genetically tested because dad needed kidney transplant - turned out one of sons wasn't his - doctors told them

Citrus Fruit

1 extra ration of citrus fruit a day on top of 5 servings fruit & veg halves risk of all digestive system cancers

One-legged guys

2 guys Timaru each lost leg to cancer at same time - one right leg, one left - and by chance both take size 9 shoes, so .....

A Heavy Woman

A woman had 80kg tumour cut out of back - she weighed 40kg when removed

When will you die? - enter all your personal stats - DOB, BMI and answer qs about your attitude (normal/pessimist/optimist/sadistic!) - also has link to 'postpone your day of death' site


Calorie reduction regime - supposedly stretch out to 122 - but side effects of irritability and low sex drive (joke about doctor recommending that patient give up wine women and song "Will I live a lot longer doc?" "Well it'll seem a lot longer")


Dave Barry remedy for colds 1) drink lots of fluids ("fluids" is a medical term for beer) 2) remove all doorknobs (main way germs passed) 3) send kids to New Zealand


Cough medicines don't cure coughs - basically 7 days no matter what do

Breast Enlargement

Marian Keyes on cosmetic surgery - in LA an A cup bra entitles you to handicapped car park - counselling available if you and girlfriend have breast enhancement and hers better, or if she gets to bonk the surgeon and you don�t


Researchers now have solid evidence that male circumcision protects against three viral sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and say their findings should encourage parents around the world to circumcise their infant boys. A large study in Uganda involving 5,534 men found that those who underwent circumcision as adults were 25 percent less likely to become infected with herpes and more than 30 percent less likely to catch human papillomavirus (HPV) than their uncircumcised peers. Previous research has shown that circumcision reduces a man's risk of acquiring HIV by as much as 60 percent [Scientific American].


Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, says that the area beneath the foreskin of an uncircumcised male provides the perfect breeding ground for viruses and bacteria." It can tear and develop sores easily, and if it becomes inflamed," he said, "it gives you much more fertile ground for HIV to be transmitted" [Scientific American], as well as the herpes and HPV viruses.

However, the study did not show protection against syphilis, a bacterial STD. The results of the study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, should not be misinterpreted to mean that circumcision alone can prevent STD infections, researchers say. "It must be emphasized that protection was only partial, and it is critical to promote the practice of safe sex," they wrote [AP]. But any measure of protection is worth pursuing, researchers say. And preventing men from catching (and spreading) the HPV virus has a correlated effect of protecting women, as HPV can cause cervical cancer.

Despite the medical evidence, male circumcision engenders strong feelings based on culture, religion, family custom and personal choice. Less than one-third of adult men worldwide are circumcised, according to estimates from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. And while circumcision programs are catching on in many parts of Africa, establishing the surgery as a public health measure faces obstacles elsewhere. "There's no doubt India is not going to jump on the bandwagon," [study coauthor Thomas] Quinn says. "Muslims are circumcised, Hindus are not."

Old Testament Circumcision

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's weekly Morbidity and Mortality newsletter reported in June that, officially, 11 newborn Jewish males in New York City between the years 2000-2011 were diagnosed with Herpes Simplex Virus that had been passed on by a circumcision technique in which the "mohel" (circumcisor) contains bleeding by sucking blood directly from the wound.


There are two constants in medicine: change and resistance to change


Higher litigation paradoxically because health outcomes improving so people have higher expectations. But drawback that makes doctors reluctant to try new techniques. In 1980's kidney disease a leading killer, then a US team started doing experimental transplants. First 30 patents all died, until got procedure right, leader of team got Nobel Prize and now it's an everyday op that has saved thousands of lives

Roller coasters shake loose kidney stones (and an igNobel for Prof David Wartinger)

Medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States with more than 250,000 Americans dying each year from medical errors.

Medical misunderstandings: woman with diabetes shown how to inject her own insulin by injecting an orange. So she injected oranges and ate them (Also House episode with woman and asthma inhaler).


In book Blood and Guts - A History of Surgery, Richard Hollingsworth described early heart ops where they hooked a volunteer's blood supply up to that of the patient so could pump blood for both - first known procedure with chance of 200% mortality.

Robert Liston, surgeon in the early half of the 19th C. Could perform a full cut and shut amputation of a leg in 2.5 minutes. During the demonstration of one such procedure he severed the fingers of his assistant, and a spectator is said to have died of shock. The assistant and the amputee also both died of infections. Liston is the only surgeon in recorded history to have suffered a 300% mortality rate from a single operation.

US Hospitals

A trauma victim arriving at a hospital emergency room but requiring specialized intensive care would usually be transferred promptly to a qualified "trauma center," whose success rate with such patients is believed to be 25 percent better than that of ordinary hospitals. However, a recent study from Stanford University researchers found that, among 636 hospitals observed, there was a greater reluctance to make the transfer--if the patient was fully insured. (That is, the authors suggest, there is a tendency for hospitals to hang onto insured patients, even though their outcomes might be worse, but not to similarly hang onto the uninsured--who are more likely to properly transferred.)


Doctors in Boston experimenting with group visits - 9 or 10 patients with similar problems (elderly heart patients or young maternity cases for example) - by sharing consultation they get longer time with doctor (90 minutes instead of 10 or 15) and hear others questions so get more info. Dr benefits by not having to repeat same info. patients can wait to ask personal Q's in private but a surprising number happy to share problems of depression or family/work issues.

On average, American doctors interrupt their patients within 14 seconds.


Doctors conducted a routine ultrasound scan on a patient who complained of a lump in his testicle, and found a man’s face staring back at them. Writing in the medical journal Urology, doctors Gregory Roberts and Naji Touma reported: “We were amazed to see the outline of a man’s face staring up out of the image.”The authors, from Queen’s University, Ontario, added: “A brief debate ensued on whether the image could have been a sign from a deity. However, the consensus deemed it a mere coincidental occurrence.”

Unusual Work

Professional patients now help train would-be doctors, especially in the most delicate and dreaded of exams (gynecological and prostate), where a becalming technique improves outcomes. One "teaching associate" of Eastern Virginia Medical School told the Washington Post in September that the helpers act as "enthusiastic surgical dummies" to 65 medical colleges, guiding rookie fingers through the trainer's own private parts. The prostate associate might helpfully caution, "No need for speed here," especially since he will be bending over for as many as nine probings a day.

The NHS in the UK had only one man registered as a rectal teaching assistant, offering his anus to be examined by trainee doctors. He has lost his job to a robot anus.


A December Wall Street Journal investigation turned up instances of physical-therapy doctors earning millions of dollars a year in Medicare payments by "treating" nonexistent patients or by overtreating real patients or by providing controversial "treatments" that other therapists say is useless. Describing the work of hard-partying, spike-haired Miami Beach doctor Christopher Wayne, one former physical-therapy association official likened Wayne's expensive "treatment" to "back rubs." (Medicare law requires prompt payment to doctors but prevents the public release of doctors' billing records--even if all patient identification is hidden--thus ensuring that any Medicare abuses can only be uncovered by a small team of federal investigators and not by the press unless, as the Wall Street Journal did, they investigate patient by patient.)


The Swinfens run the Swinfen Charitable Trust, a telemedicine charity that uses e-mail to link sick people in poor, remote, or dangerous parts of the world with hundreds of medical specialists in some of the world's finest hospitals. Doctors in about 140 hospitals and clinics in 39 nations use the organization to seek help for patients requiring specialized care beyond their capabilities. Through the trust, they can be put in e-mail contact - often within hours - with one or more of the 400 specialists who work without pay as part of the trust's network. Doctors in distant areas - including Afghanistan, Antarctica, and the Solomon Islands - e-mail photos (many taken with digital cameras supplied by the Swinfens), X-rays, test results, and case notes. The information is reviewed by specialists, who respond by e-mail to help make diagnoses and recommend treatments.


(LST review of TV series...) "I have a lot of time for Dr Alice Roberts - not least because, in her previous series, Don't Die Young, she performed a self-coloposcopy, and showed us the interior of her vagina. Not even Madonna has done that"

Lighter Conversation Starters

"Doctor where shall I put my clothes?" "Right there on top of mine"

"Kiss me doctor." "No it would be unethical. I shouldn't even be fucking you."

"Doctor doctor give me some pills I've become a kleptomaniac." "Take these but if they don't work get me an iPod."

"You don't have a complex at all - you really are inferior.

He's a great doctor - once when I couldn't afford an operation he touched up the xrays

He never operates unless he really ..... Needs the money

So I donated a kidney last year. Of course, they wanted to know where I got it.

Most surgeons today specialize - mine seems to specialize in banking


If you are American, you can be identifies=d via the DNA profile of 2 third cousins (a third cousin is someone who has a great-great-grandfather in common with you). We each have around 800 third cousins. 90% of white Americans are identifiable via or 23andme.

Guy told story of his mother losing her password to her acct on 23andme. Instead of just getting another password, she ordered up a new kit and sent in a new sample. "Today she rings up, baffled but excited and happy that they've found an identical twin that she didn't know about."


Book Extracts on Health