Understandably, who wants to get admitted to a hospital? But life is such, and in the unavoidable event that this is to happen, it would be wise, if possible, not to get in on a weekend.
The British Independent newspaper highlighted this under the ominous headline, “Weekends worse for hospital deaths” recently. It pointed out that an NHS London study found patients admitted to hospital at weekends were more at risk of dying than those treated during the week, largely due to a lack of hospital consultants at weekends.
Quite frankly, most hospitals throughout the world operate on skeleton staff during weekends just to provide the basic services on-site. On the occasion where an urgent specialist referral is required, a duty roster is in existence to summon the specialist from his home, but this usually takes some time. If an emergency procedure is required, there is bound to be a time lapse before all available personnel can be summoned.
Many hospitals cut off ‘non-essential services’ after office-hours. You’ll be hard-pressed to find dieticians , physiotherapists and some specialists on weekends.The reason is largely pure economics – having then around means paying overtime wages which in the long run may not be economically feasible. Economics aside, hospital staff are basically human and require their rest and ‘me time’ like the rest of us.
It may seem unfair, but hospitals do charge an ‘overtime fee’ or surcharge if services are provided after office-hours, to compensate for the overtime charges of their staff on duty. A CT scan can easily cost double the usual charge if done on weekends. Its okay, the insurance will pay for it, you may say. But third-party payors are getting wise; and, apart from co-payments (where a percentage of the hospital charge has to be paid by the consumer), insurance companies have been known to refuse to pay if such procedures are deemed (in their eyes) to be of a non-emergency nature.
For elective procedures, one would be well-advised to have then done during weekdays, if only to ensure that the full staff complement is at hand, should the need arise for their involvement.
- A&E death rates ‘rise on weekends’ (mirror.co.uk)
- NHS hospitals have higher death rates at weekends, research finds (guardian.co.uk)
- Hospital care at weekends ‘risky’ (bbc.co.uk)
Took me some time to compile this list, so here goes:
The Best Doctors
1.Drs Beutler, Hoffman and Steinman
These three were the winners of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Medicine and the impact of their research will be felt for many years to come.
In essence, they discovered receptor proteins in the body that can spot bacteria and other microorganisms and then activate the body’s innate immunity to defend itself. These dendritic cells activate the T cells which then produce antibodies which attack the invading germs.
Their studies determine how clinicians prevent and treat infection, inflammatory diseases, and cancer in the future. Strangely enough, one of them, Dr Steinman (right,above pic) himself died of cancer of the pancreas before he won the award. This disease was one of the potential beneficiaries of his research.
2. Dr Valentin Fuster
This Spanish cardiologist, who is the Head of Mount Sinai Heart Centre in New York, is the only person to be awarded the top research awards from all the four main cardiovascular organisations.
He is best known for his profound contribution towards the understanding and prevention of atherothrombosis and was the first to have highlighted the role of platelets in acute coronary syndromes. In other words, how heart attacks happen-see below.
Lung cancer specialist at one of the top cancer centres in the world, Memorial Sloan-Kettering in Houston,Texas, he was recognised for his dedication and compassion in his professional work and volunteer efforts by being awarded the inaugural ASCO Humanitarian Award .
He has built homes for families in Hyde Park, New York, gone to Costa Rica to build a basketball court and a church and made several trips to assist with earthquake relief in Haiti; and helped with relief efforts in Biloxi, Mississippi after it was hit byHurricane Katrina.
Of course, to the unsung heroes out there,those who have toiled without bells and whistles, well done for being a credit to your profession!
- Remembering Ralph Steinman (06880danwoog.com)
Fears of a fresh outbreak of bird flu this year have been raised by the United Nations, after an increase in the number of deaths and, crucially, the emergence of a new, mutated strain of the disease.
Although in six countries – Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia and Vietnam – it is known to be endemic (present all the time albeit in smaller numbers), at least eight people have died of bird flu in Cambodia this year alone. Of note – the emergence of a new, mutated strain of the disease for which the existing vaccines do not work.
Just as a reminder, the H5N1 bird flu virus spread across Asia in the last few years, killing millions of fowl and several hundred people but never gained genes to spread easily among humans. This is unlike the swine flu virus (H1N1) which readily affects humans and spread rapidly in 2008 from Mexico to the US and beyond, killing thousands.
While it is expected that the the new Avian mutant virus may not be so transmissible to humans, it is difficult how dangerous it potentially is. Nevertheless, it is of sufficient concern for the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to issue a warning urging stiffer surveillance measures to prevent the disease spreading to new areas, particularly when bird migration can take the virus to countries which have never got the illness.
The threat of catching the disease aside, the economic impact of another outbreak can be quite tremendous, considering that in 2008, some 400 million domestic poultry were slaughtered and the disease was said to have cost the world’s economies US $20bn.