Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Happy to say sorry

I'm feeling pleased with myself.

It doesn't take much to please a lord. You can't really survive in the house of lords if you need recognition, praise or the noise of great battles. Most days the press gallery is empty, most days our proceedings go unreported, most days our proceedings are so detailed and obscure that it is just as well for the mental health of the rest of us that they do go unreported.

So I take pleasure in little things, Little victories, little parts played in changing something small. Something that happened to someone else today took my mind back to clause 2 of the compensation act 2006, which reads:

"An apology, an offer of treatment or other redress, shall not of itself amount to an admission of negligence or breach of statutory duty."

which was my suggestion. So I am pleased to take credit for it, though in truth nothing would have come of it if it had not been for the support of my frontbench colleague Lord Hunt, for the interest taken in the suggestion by the minister Lady Ashton of Upholland, for the support and help of a host of unnamed civil servants, for the support too I expect of the lord chancellor Lord Falconer and of a minister or two in the Commons.

Perhaps that's why the Lords is such a nice place to be. None of us can achieve much without the help of our colleagues and our opponents, so we spend our time being pleasant to them. And being quite unreasonably pleased when one suggestion in a thousand is taken up.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Water Music - preventing infection from urinary catheters

From time to time medics have steam coming out of my ears - condemning alternative medicine and ignoring their own fallible practices for instance. They seem to have a particular blindspot when it comes to supporting solutions that don't involve expensive drugs or high-tech equipment.

Sticking a catheter into the bladder is a dangerous business - it carries bugs with it that can be very hard to eradicate. See title link for the general state of alarm.

30 years ago Dr Reese Alsop at the Huntingdon Hospital, NY wrote up a method for avoiding these risks. He played the patients a tape of water sounds!

In summary, he wrote: "A 30 minute tape of splashing, gurgling, lapping, running, roaring, dripping and flushing watery sounds was made available to post-operative patients who were still unable to pee following conventional non-invasive treatment. 60 of 80 patients responded, often requiring 20+ minutes to do so - but that's 75% of catheterisation avoided.". He concluded: "A word of warning: earphones are de rigeur. On several occasions the tape was inadvertently broadcast, with unfortunate results for other patients and nursing staff."

Obvious when you think of it - it's one of our most ingrained responses. Has it been taken up - or even tried again - by the medical profession? Fat chance.