My article below was published this week at both The Conversation and in Australian Doctor. I figured I’d get in third.
On the past two Thursdays, the ABC’s Catalyst program set off a chain reaction of protest from sections of the medical community, aghast that the non-medical media would question the accepted wisdom that dietary saturated fats kill people and statins save lives.
The issue dominated the medical media, and Professor Emily Banks, chair of the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Medicines, warned the ABC to pull the second program. Yet the show went on: as befits a catalyst, it remained unaffected by the reaction it had produced.
Ben Sanders, Medical Observer
This column is delivered to you from a Byron Bay beach, where I’m relaxing after attending the inaugural Boomerang Aboriginal music festival.
I point this out as a status symbol: I am hip enough to hang in Byron, cool enough to have almost met Archie Roach (I lined up for coffee with his roadie) and, in summary, have a more balanced and interesting life than you.
This is my ‘Year in Provence’ moment, where the writer chooses the best possible time and place to randomly reflect how extraordinary their life is, tempered only by hardships like lavender allergies or, in my case, long coffee lines. But did I tell you how even that almost resulted in me chilling with Archie?
In writing parlance this is a selective memoir, although medical readers are more familiar with the term ‘publication bias’. The negative findings never make it to print. Continue reading
“I’m your replacement.”
By Price, Medical Observer
In October, Medical Observer asked me to summarise 2013 research into cardiac risk factors. I discovered Shakespeare had got there first.
Hearts. Don’t you just love them?
Yet despite their adorable cardiac shape, they cop a whole lot of negative medical press. Red clots, black infarcts and yellow fatty deposits. Medical Observer’s colour photos serve us a weekly palette of coronary fragility.
We all know the big CV risks factors, but recent research has focused on numerous, minor associations. Even Shakespeare had an inkling we would eventually find plenty of quirky factors, when he wrote ‘This heart shall break into a hundred thousand flaws.’
In fact, none better than the English bard to lead us through 2013’s research into cardiac risk factors. Continue reading
Justin reading an ancient book on blogging
The first part of the RACGP GP13 workshop in Darwin looked at tweeting for doctors and other health professionals.
For those with attention spans longer than 140 characters, let’s have a look at blogging.
Or, in twitter lingo:
The journalistic principals involve Five Ws and an H, so let’s divide up this wwwwwhorkshop thus:
This workshop aims to encourage health professionals such as GPs to begin using social media as an educational tool. It was originally run at GP13, the RACGP Annual Scientific Convention in Darwin, Oct 2013.
The workshop has been written by:
Dr Justin Coleman and
(* To reverse Twitter addiction, see next month’s 12-step program)
Ben Sanders, Medical Observer
My exciting tale of seeing @DoctorKarl, a real, live science geek, in my home town’s writers festival was first published here in Medical Observer, Oct 2013.
This morning I took two of my sons to see Dr Karl Kruszelnicki at the Brisbane Writers Festival. He was even louder and more brilliant than his orange shirt, and my kids couldn’t get enough of him.
My younger one asked him whether, if you stand on accurate scales and breathe in, your weight changes. He asked me the same question last week, and Dr Karl’s answer exactly matched my own, although mine was done while yelling at him (my son, not Karl) to get ready for school, which doubles the degree of difficulty. Everyone clapped Karl’s answer, whereas mine just made me late for work. Continue reading
You have read my name. You have glanced at my photo. But now you have the chance to hear my voice, you lucky thing.
Dr Casey Parker is a doctor based in Broome, in Australia’s deserted remote north west corner, but he is brilliant at connecting, via internet, with places where people actually live. He runs the site Broome Docs.
Casey interviewed me this week about my thoughts on over-testing and overdiagnosis. The podcast is found here.
NSW Doctor in the good old days
Back in the good old days, your good doctor could pop any commission from anybody into his left pantaloons pocket, and nobody would question it.
These days, the public quite reasonably expects higher standards of accountability. Some would argue that doctors should never accept money or payments-in-kind from pharmaceutical companies, because this would compromise their role in directing patient’s and taxpayer’s money towards one particular medicine over another.
I believe that some interaction is a matter of choice for the doctor, but I also believe that any payment should not be allowed to remain hidden. Hence, I joined the Medicines Australia Transparency Working Group, whose role was to produce a method for making such payments transparent.
Medicines Australia, which represents the pharmaceutical industry, was tasked by the ACCC to produce a workable system for publishing a register (pdf) of pharma payments to Australian doctors.
I was asked by the RACGP to write their official response to the proposed system. The RACGP endorsed my response and put it on their website, and you can also read some excerpts on this blog.
My stance has already earned me the ire in the medical media of some doctors, a few of whom are vitriolic in their opposition Continue reading
Ben Sanders, Medical Observer
For some reason, elections are on my mind.
I have a fascination with our 24-hour political fascination. The concept that a single campaign interview gaffe might actually change who we ask to rule our land for the next three years. What sort of voter would switch sides based on the writhings of a TV debate polling worm?
Not me. I’m a man of conviction. Indeed, a similar descriptor was used of my forebears when the judge at the Old Bailey first sent them here. Continue reading
In some sort of weird russian-doll unpacking of layers, I’m sitting in a blogging workshop and all 25 of us are analysing my blog. I figured that while we’re doing it, I’d take the opportunity to blog about the process. Then the other 24 can comment on my blog about my blog. Maybe they’ll even blog about it. Blogorama!
The good news is, I’ve never had so many hits on the one day.
The bad news is, we’ve also just looked at some much better blogs. I guess you could go to one of the others immediately, although I’m not giving you a single web address; look them up yourself, you lazy thing!
Renee Barnes is running the workshop as part of the AMWA annual conference in Melbourne, and her blog, quite frankly, is a brilliant example of what mine should look like. Continue reading
Posted in writing
Tagged AMWA, blog