UK Medical Slang

Let's see how good you are at deciphering some UK medical slang. What do the following terms mean:

1. Hasselhoff

2. disco biscuit

3. a Father Jack

4. blamestorming

5. a MacTilt

6. Jack Bauer

No cheating now.

I don't know how to do the "below the fold" thing, so here are the answers.

1. an accident and emergency case patient (coined after former Baywatch actor David Hasselhoff said last year that he had hit his head on a chandelier while shaving. The broken glass severed four tendons and an artery in his right arm, which required immediate surgery.)

2. ecstasy tablet

3. confused and elderly patients who constantly shout and try to get out of bed (taken from the name of the drunken old priest in the sitcom Father Ted)

4. sessions of mutual recrimination wherein a team would try to find someone to blame for an error

5. how a Macmillan nurse tilts his or her head to convey sympathy or understanding to a cancer patient

6. a doctor who is still up and working after 24 hours [Please, only 24 hrs; that doesn't merit a special designation. Talk to me when you've done 36 hrs call every other day.]

Lack Of Sex Education Found To Help Teenagers Delay Sex

"Sex education found to help teenagers delay sex", according to a new CDC study. Great news, no?

Except, when you read the Reuters article you have this:

The researchers did not evaluate the content of sex education programs, including whether students were taught about contraception or about abstinence only.

Huh? Either Reuters is misreporting or the quality of research at the CDC is seriously lacking.

If you don't know whether the programs you're evaluating do, in fact, teach sex ed (comprehensive programs), or not (abstinence-only programs), you can't draw any valid conclusions about the effects of formal sex education on the timing of teenagers' sexual debut.

For all you know, most, or even all, of the programs you evaluated were abstinence-only programs, in which case the finding, and the headline, would be "Lack of sex education found to help teenagers delay sex."

If you have access to the study, please share; it would be interesting to find out who the clueless culprit is, Reuters or the CDC.

UPDATE: Here's the abstract, thanks to reader lyrl.

iPledge Restrictions Eased

Hot on the heels of the resounding success of iPledge, the $100 million program intended to insure that Accutane users don't get pregnant while on the drug, the FDA has decided to ease restrictions on access to the drug:

A program called iPledge was designed to ensure that every user of Accutane or its generic competitors — and every doctor who prescribes it and every pharmacy that sells it — follows strict rules to make sure that women don't get pregnant while on the drug. Among those rules are month-by-month prescriptions based on passing pregnancy tests.

But last summer, the Food and Drug Administration heard evidence that iPledge hasn't ended the problem: There were 122 pregnancies in the program's first year and another 37 in the four months since. Another 19 pregnancies occurred in women who managed to get the drug despite never enrolling in iPledge.

Still, in October the FDA agreed to a few changes to the program, and announced Wednesday that iPledge is now implementing these changes:

_Women of childbearing age who don't fill a prescription within seven days of a pregnancy test will be allowed to get another test and then fill the prescription — with the exception of the initial prescription. Until now, those who didn't act within seven days were frozen out of the program for the next 23 days.

_Those women will have to fill the prescription within seven days of a pregnancy test rather than within seven days of first seeing their doctor.

Science Blogging Anthology

The excellent Coturnix from A Blog Around The Clock is collecting nominations for the 2nd Science Blogging anthology, a showcase of the best science bloggers had to offer in 2007.

If you wrote, or read, a science post you'd like to see included in the book, please submit it here (only 4 days left!).

Here's a full list of entries (329 so far). And here's the 2006 edition of The Open Laboratory.

Domestic Violence In Turkey

From a cross-sectional study of ED physicians and nurses at a large university hospital in Turkey:

Accepted grounds for intimate domestic violence included lying to or criticising the male and failure to care for children. Moreover, about three-quarters of the nurses and male physicians and over half of female physicians agreed that deceiving the husband justified physical punishment Deceiving the husband is a taboo in Turkey and it is among the most important reasons for honour murders.

The vast majority of healthcare workers declared that they were aware of the clinical signs of domestic violence, yet more detailed questions highlighted significant gaps in their knowledge. Few staff knew the correct legal procedures for reporting cases of wife-beating.

OTC Birth Control Pills In The UK

UK health minister Lord Darzi has introduced a Pilot Scheme, due to start in 2008, that would allow women to purchase the Pill from pharmacies without a doctor's prescription.

Sort of.

If you look at the fine print, it appears this initiative isn't so much about making the Pill OTC as it is about shifting the gatekeeper job from doctors to pharmacists. According to the BBC (emphasis mine):

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said pharmacies could play an increased role in the provision of contraception and other sexual health services, because of their accessibility and convenient opening hours.

There is no firm commitment to roll out the scheme nationally but any women receiving the contraceptive pill from a pharmacist would have to go through the same process if they were to receive it through a prescription issued by a GP, they said.

"We will work with the pharmacy profession to ensure robust standard setting and appropriate training to ensure pharmacists are competent to safely provide this service."

Having OTC access to the Pill means you walk into a pharmacy and are able to buy the Pill, no questions asked.

Having to "go through the same process [as] if [you] were to receive it through a prescription issued by a GP" means you have to go over your gyn history (and, maybe, undergo a physical exam) right there at the pharmacy counter. The middle of a store is not the proper place to have a medical exam. [Sure, the store could set aside a private area to conduct screenings for Pill eligibility, but that would defeat the purpose of the undertaking. If you're still required to undergo an exam to obtain the Pill, there's no advantage to having the screening done by a stranger, in a store vs. by your own Ob/Gyn in his/her office.]

True OTC access to the Pill means you trust that women are capable of making their own medical decisions. And since this is science we're talking about, we can look at the evidence to support the proposition that women have, you know, the ability to make decisions that are in their best interest.

For example, when researchers looked at the ability of women to self-screen for contraindications to Pill use, they found that 6.7% of women incorrectly thought they could use the Pill when, in fact, they couldn't. Compare that with the ~6% of Pill users who, despite undergoing screening by an MD, are still contraindicated for use. There's basically no difference.

So, the UK's Pilot Scheme is somewhat of a first step, but it's not yet clear if it will lead to OTC Pill availability. Meanwhile, here in the US, we're still proudly and prudently protecting women from themselves, only allowing them to obtain the Pill with a prescription.

FDA Recommends Adiana Approval

In a a vote of 10 to 3 the FDA's Ob/Gyn specialty panel recommended that the pre market application for Adiana(R) Permanent Contraception for female sterilization is Approvable.


Photo via Ob.Gyn. News

If you recall, Adiana is a new female birth control method in the Sterilization group, a novel, two-step approach to permanent contraception. Here's how it works:

First, a catheter is positioned immediately inside the opening of the patient's fallopian tube using a hysteroscope, eliminating the need for any incisions. The catheter applies a very low-level of bi-polar radiofrequency (RF) energy to remove just a thin layer of cells that line a 1cm section of the inside of the fallopian tube. The catheter then delivers an implantable, soft polymer, called a "matrix," which remains within the prepared section of the tube. The matrix is smaller than a grain of rice. The procedure is then repeated on the other fallopian tube. Healthy tissue will grow into the matrix, creating a complete blockage of each tube. A confirmatory dye test called a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) is conducted at three months post-procedure to ensure the fallopian tubes are completely blocked and that the woman can begin relying on Adiana for permanent contraception.

Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison Resigns

Amid admissions of an extramarital affair, accusations of sexual harassment and professional misconduct, and counter accusations of false claims, Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison resigns.

Morrison acknowledged an extramarital affair with a former employee, Linda Carter. Carter has accused Morrison of sexual harassment, and of professional misconduct aimed at his predecessor Phill "Patient Chart Thief" Kline, the current Johnson County DA:

Linda Carter, former director of administration for the Johnson County district attorney's office, has said she and Morrison had a two-year affair starting in September 2005 — meaning it continued while Morrison ran for attorney general last year and after he took office.

Carter, who like Morrison is married, filed a civil rights claim against Morrison last month with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Morrison was the Johnson County DA when the affair began, and Carter claims she initially resisted her boss's advances. She also accuses Morrison of attempting to influence a federal lawsuit involving Phill Kline, whom Morrison ousted from the attorney general's office in last year's election.


Morrison switched his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat last year to challenge Kline, a GOP conservative. Johnson County Republicans picked the defeated Kline to take over Morrison's old job.

Carter accuses Morrison of trying to pressure her to write letters on behalf of eight former employees who were dismissed by Kline. In August, a federal magistrate dismissed all but one count in a wrongful termination lawsuit they filed.

Carter also claims Morrison sought sensitive information about Kline's activities as district attorney.

According to a statement released by Paul Morrison (via):

"Many of the claims made by Linda Carter to the Topeka Capital-Journal are patently false.

"Any allegations of discrimination or harassment are blatantly and patently false. These false claims are especially perplexing given that Mrs. Carter repeatedly sought employment in the Attorney General's office after I was sworn in.


"Mrs. Carter's false allegations are being leveled more than eleven months after my employment at the Johnson County District Attorney's Office ended.

"Any allegation that I used the relationship to influence litigation is absolutely false. The only people attempting to use this painful and personal information for their own benefit are Mrs. Carter and her boss, Phill Kline.

Where's *My* Security Clearance?

While at work, imagine I decide to do the following:

I approach a co-worker and ask him to come with me to a room to help me fix the air conditioner. Once in the room, I then jump up and grab my colleague around the neck and try to get his scrub pants off of him.

My colleague struggles with me for a few minutes before he manages to fight me off.

He reports the incident to the authorities, and an investigator interviews me.

I deny that I had attempted to rape him, but admit that I had gone too far with him, and I sign a statement to that effect.

In the document, I state that I "admit that I pulled his scrub pants" and that I asked him, "What do you have behind there?"

I also say that I "made a mistake and it was stupid," according to the document.

So, what effect to you think my actions would have on my employment situation? Well, if my employer is the State Department, None.Whatsoever.

Not only would I not be investigate for physically assaulting a colleague, I'd also get to keep my security clearance. 'Cause what better indicator that one is worthy of being entrusted with a security clearance than the fact that one doesn't have enough self-control to function in the most banal of circumstances.

The Department of Justice and the State Department, ladies and gentlemen: Brimming with competence and mucking up our country, one bad decision at a time.

I Make An Offering To The Gods

I saw this thing in the supermarket the other day and I have no idea what it is (it has the texture of, and it smells like, a bizarro lemon). I asked a few employees and customers but none had an answer.

One thing I knew for sure was that I had to buy one and mail it to our Dear Leader. And that's exactly what I did. [Sorry Professor, it just couldn't be helped.] I mean, is this a great Squidmas gift, or what?

UPDATE: Mystery solved, thanks to reader ctate. What we have here is a fruit, called Buddha's Hand citron. I changed the pic titles to reflect the new information.