Posts tagged: Medicine

Mental capacity may not be a sufficiently robust safeguard in the Assisted Dying Bill

Annabel Price

As the Assisted Dying Bill goes through UK Parliament, a key proposed safeguard is that a patient must have the mental capacity to make the decision to end their life.

Dr Annabel Price works with terminally ill patients and is an author of an analysis of evidence presented to the Commission for Assisted Dying, which was published in BMC Medical Ethics today. She conducted  this research as a Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Psychological Medicine, King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, but has recently moved to Cambridge as a Consultant in Liaison Psychiatry.

In this guest post she tells us about her work on this controversial topic, and how the Bill could be improved.

Mental capacity has been placed …

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Help me: I’m interdisciplinary! – A blog post about interdisciplinary health services research

Different ways of thinking

In this post, new guest blogger Jay Shaw looks at the challenges of working across disciplines in research and what can be done to address them.

I have a dilemma. I am a postdoctoral researcher in health services and policy research at University Health Network in Toronto, Canada. I am trained as a physiotherapist; I did my PhD in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, which was supervised by a physiotherapist, a psychologist, and a nurse; and my postdoctoral advisory committee includes a geographer, a sociologist, and an anthropologist. I guess I’m still sorting through my disciplinary identity crisis.

This might sound a bit like an educational carnival (thanks to Mikhail Bakhtin for that one), but it’s actually just a reflection of …

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Reverse innovation – does it really exist?

light bulb

To progress and explore the on-going reverse innovation in global health systems thematic series published in Globalization and Health, tweeters gathered on 28 March to discuss and share  thoughts on what reverse innovation in health really means by answering a set of questions provoking a compelling debate.

[View the story "Do low-income countries hold the key to health innovation?" on Storify]

Rabies – does it have to be fatal?


Rabies is a reliable killer – the only known infection with a near 100% fatality rate. That is until 2004 when a pediatrician in Milwaukee, USA, tried an experimental protocol that saved the life of 15-year-old Jeanna Geise. Dr Willoughby’s treatment, published here, was to induce a coma to protect her brain from the disease, while waiting for her to develop antibodies that could fight the virus.

While in a coma, Jeanna was given anti-viral drugs ribavirin and amantadine, although neither of these is proven to be effective against rabies. She had been bitten by a bat over a month earlier, too late for post-exposure vaccination, but the novel treatment worked, making Jeanna the sixth documented person to ever …

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Arthritis discovery hailed as ‘exceptional example’ of translational research outcome


Sir Ravinder Maini and Sir Professor Marc Feldmann were last week awarded a prestigious 2014 Canada Gairdner International Award for their discovery of anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) therapy for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.


Rheumatoid arthritis is a common, chronic, painful and disabling autoimmune disease that affects over 21 million people worldwide. In the mid-1980s, Professors Maini and Feldmann discovered the first treatment for it using monoclonal antibodies, which are genetically engineered natural defense molecules, against the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNFα – this became known as ‘anti-TNF’.


Not only was this a novel treatment, but it was the first demonstration of the efficacy of a biological therapy for a chronic autoimmune disease. This led to recognition by …

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Identifying and supporting informal carers

Young carer

In this guest post, Dr Emma Carduff and Dr Anne Finucane, co-authors on a new paper published today in BMC Family Practice explain why it’s important to support the carers of people approaching the end of their lives.

Approx. 10% of the UK population have an unpaid caring role for a family member or friend. Many of these carers make a significant contribution to supporting people who are approaching the end of their lives.  With increasing numbers of older and frailer people in the population, informal carers will play a vital role in caring for family members as health deteriorates and end of life approaches. In particular, care from informal carers, …

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Creating better care for people with rare diseases

Doctors with patient

In this guest post for Rare Disease Day, Alastair Kent OBE, Director of Genetic Alliance UK and Chair of Rare Disease UK, looks at what’s been achieved for patients with rare diseases and how open access journals are playing their part.

For many years rare diseases (defined as those that affect fewer than 5 in 10,000 in the European Union) have been invisible. Patients and families affected by the 6,000 or more different rare diseases have been lost in the system, suffering the consequences of delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis (often two or three times) and fragmentary, disjointed care.

Recent advances in research have changed this situation significantly. Increasingly there is the possibility of better care and management for affected …

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Why mosquitoes resist – a new molecular marker sheds light on insecticide resistance


This guest blog is written by Vera Unwin. With an MSc in Medical Parasitology and experience as a Parasitology Research Technician, Vera regularly writes for Bugbitten, our blog on parasites and vectors.

Insecticides are fundamental to vector control programs for vector borne diseases. Malaria is one of the most dangerous of these diseases, with an estimated 627,000 deaths per year. Reducing transmission by targeting mosquito populations is an integral strategy for controlling this disease. Such programs are heavily reliant on the use of insecticides- in the form of Insecticide Treated bed Nets (ITNS) and Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS)- to decrease mosquito populations and so lower transmission of the disease.


The widespread use of insecticides has inevitably …

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Unravelling the associations between childhood malaria and invasive bacteria infection


Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites of the Plasmodium genus that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. It is a leading cause of childhood morbidity and mortality worldwide, accounting  for 7% of deaths in children younger than five years old.

Young children living in stable transmission areas are particularly at risk of malaria, since they have not yet developed protective immunity against the most severe forms of the disease. As clinical outcomes in this group can be poor, there is much interest in understanding what other factors contribute to a poor outcome in order to identify future targets for additional treatments.

Previous data had shown tentative indications that children infected with Plasmodium falciparum malaria …

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Patient preferences – does offering choice improve treatment outcomes?


If you had a condition that could be treated with a single operation that carries risks, or with a series of physiotherapy sessions, which has fewer risks but will take longer, which would you choose?

A post last week on our blogs looked at participatory medicine and what the meaning of ‘participation’ in this context is. Clearly, an element of patient participation is their ability to express a choice in the type of treatment they’re offered.

The choice is down to individual preference, personal needs, circumstances and motivation. These perspectives are becoming increasingly recognised by clinical and policy decision makers and should pave the way for improved patient satisfaction, in addition to outcome and cost-effectiveness of medical care.

The …

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