Friday, 7 June 2013



First, very sorry for the really late post. Things are getting out hand. I always tried to post on Sundays, but then with busy weekends this started shifting to Monday/Tuesday and now it seems to have shifted all the way to Friday. Hopefully I can catch up. The problem is, things re really busy and, while I enjoy sitting down to write a post, it takes time which I don't really have! Perhaps, come August, I will try and keep it regular but remove the 'weekly' from the title to take away that expectation (which I am struggling to meet!) What do you think?

Anyway, moving on to what I have been up to this week (by which I mean last week), it was a bit more empty than the week before. A bank holiday when I didn't need to go in, and a day of lectures meant I only spent a few days in the hospital. I am still on an acute medicine rotation for this week, before moving onto emergency medicine for the next few weeks. 

The day in the acute medical unit consists of a consultant lead ward round at 8AM, seeing most patients. Patients are normally only admitted to this ward for a day or two, so each patient is an interesting case, needing diagnosis and management plans, which keeps things interesting. There are two consultants who split up and see the patients who have been admitted in the last 24 hours, and a registrar (slightly less experienced) who sees the patients who have been in for over 24 hours, and adjusts their management plans. There are about 30 beds in total. After all patients have been seen by one of these three groups (each consultant has junior doctors with them to help things along) everyone goes into a meeting room, and all patients and plans are discussed. All the plans are put onto a big spreadsheet, which is printed off and pasted on the wall. The rest of the day consists of the consultants going somewhere (still not sure where, perhaps there is a secret bar out back?) while the juniors carry out the 'jobs' on the list. These could be things like taking blood, asking specialists for referrals, or inserting a chest drain. This is the most useful part for me, as I can just grab jobs off of this list and do them, meaning I am helping the team out, while learning myself.

One of the most useful things I was trying to practice this week was referrals to other specialities. This is where a patient needs a more specialist opinion for a complex disease, and you try and persuade a specialist to come and see them. As a regular reader might know, I have had bad experiences in referring to specialists before (like this), so I thought it would be a good idea to get used to how to do it. Different specialists want different information; a cardiologist will want to know about previous heart attacks or angina, and cardiac risk factors (like smoking, family history of heart disease, high cholesterol etc) while an endocrinologist might quiz you on the exact insulin regime the patient has, how closely they stick to it, and their blood glucose highs and lows. Being prepared for what they ask you is very important, as they won't hang around if you need to pop off and ask the patient! This week I referred patients to the dermatologists (one for a very interesting rash that looked vasculitic (is it lupus!?)) and I took a patient over to vascular surgery myself to try and squeeze him into the radiographer's  list of vascular imaging, where they use an ultrasound machine to view the vessels in the legs, and try and work out what the blood flow is like. This sort of negotiation should be really useful come next year when I need to get patients treated and out of hospital as quickly as possible. By taking this patient to the radiographer myself (rather than leaving him to a hospital porter, who may take ages to get there) and negotiating slotting him in between two patients I got him the imaging a day earlier, meaning he could be seen by the vascular surgeons a day earlier, and out of hospital a day earlier (just a bed for a day is about £400 according to the department of health). 

A typical looking vasculitic rash

 As well as trying to do my part to save the NHS money, I also got to participate in draining fluid out of several abdomens due to liver disease. This involved sticking a needle and syringe into the belly to suck out fluid to analyse, and while exciting for me, may not be the sort of thing that people really want to read about!

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