This week in healthcare: 18 February 2013

As doctors call for pregnant women to be tested for alcohol intake, Channel 4 News has spoken to youngsters left permanently brain damaged by their mothers’ drinking. Tomorrow nearly 70 medical professionals and the FASD Trust will publish the first clear guidance into Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

Whistleblowing legislation is to be overhauled and a government consultation held to investigate whether the Public Interest Disclosure Act (Pida) 1998 is failing to protect those who speak out from being victimised, harassed and even sacked by their employers.

Fizzy drink – what’s the cost?

In today’s news, the Guardian reports that the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has put forward a 10-point action plan to help end UK’s status as the ‘fat man of Europe’. Britain’s 220,000 doctors are demanding a 20% increase in the cost of sugary drinks, fewer fast food outlets near schools and a ban on unhealthy food in hospitals.

The Telegraph reports that baby formula milk should carry bigger cigarette packet-style warnings that breastfeeding would be better, Save the Children has claimed.Also on the Guardian, Staffordshire’s police and crime commissioner says detectives are examining ‘information not in the public domain’ in regards to the Mid Staffordshire scandal.


Elsewhere, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned NHS bosses against allowing a culture that is “legalistic and defensive” in dealing with staff who raise concerns over patient care, according to the BBC. Hunt says in the letter:

“I would ask you to pay very serious heed to the warning from Mid Staffordshire that a culture which is legalistic and defensive in responding to reasonable challenges and concerns can all too easily permit the persistence of poor and unacceptable care.”

Ten top tips for NHS tweeters

twitter-logoA regular tweeter and chief executive of a foundation trust shares his best tips for effectively engaging on Twitter

Dr Mark Newbold, Guardian Professional, Monday 18 February

In this article a doctor who is now a hospital chief executive, expands on the advantages of Twitter. He has  used it, along with his blog, for over a year in the course of his work .  In this article he offers his top 10  tips to current or aspiring NHS tweeters.

Go to:

Impact of the Increased Use of Preoperative Imaging and Laparoscopy on Appendicectomy Outcomes


The diagnosis of appendicitis is based on clinical picture. The aim of this retrospective study was to analyse variation of outcomes and impact of increasing use of radiological investigations and laparoscopy over a 5-year period. A retrospective audit of appendicectomies over the last 5 years (01 January 2007–31 December 2011) was conducted. The negative appendicectomy rate (NAR), perforation rate and complication rate were used as outcome endpoints. A statistical analysis was performed to evaluate the difference in outcomes with surgical approach and use of radiology. One thousand fifty-five appendicectomies were performed in this period. The NAR was 22.65 % (21 % for open and 28 % for laparoscopic) and perforation rate was 14 %. There was no statistically significant difference in NAR with the use of ultrasound (P 0.3814) but there was a significant reduction in NAR with the use of computed tomography (CT) (P <0.0001). Intra-abdominal abscess (2.3 %) and wound infection (1.4 %) were the common complications with the former being higher with laparoscopy and the latter with open appendicectomy. Over 5 years, there were no significant changes in appendicectomy outcomes. The impact of diagnostic imaging on NAR varies with age, gender and the use of CT. CT can significantly reduce the negative appendicectomy rate in equivocal presentations. Complication rates vary with surgical approach.

Five minutes with … a clinical librarian

An interesting article from The Guardian about Victoria Treadway who fell into her role ‘by accident’ but explains why she loves it – and the challenges that she faces

Don’t forget you can have 5 mins or more with our Outreach and Clinical Librarians – just contact us on with your request.