Where Did That Pen Lid Go?

The Mirror recently reported a curious case of a man who lived for 20 years with a pen cap lodged in one of his lungs. A man from China, where I happen to be going on elective, attended hospital as he began to cough up blood. It was only after the bronchoscopy and removal of the cap that the patient remembered the incident during childhood. From the story it would appear that the patient suffered from coughing and recurrent chest infections throughout his childhood and early 20’s but did not connect these to the plastic cap lodged in his lungs. Wish me luck for my stint in China, I will hopefully collect some of these gems for future editions of Surgo.

Medical News

by Jamie Henderson

New Antibiotic You Say?

So many patients who come into hospital require antibiotics, and has become a routine part of many patient’s journey. However, we are constantly told about the increasing antibiotic resistance that is appearing in the world; although this seems to have dropped out of the news as MRSA rates have dropped. In 2013 this issue was highlighted by the CMO of England in her annual report, where she described the ‘drastic void’ in production in new antibiotics.

However, this may have changed. A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States reports a new prototype antibiotic. Developed at the Scripps Research Institute the antibiotic, which uses vancomycin as its base, acts in three ways to destroy the bacteria; the researchers claim this will reduce the chances of the bacteria developing resistance. Indeed, vancomycin has been very good at resisting resistance, with a 60 year lag time between its introduction and the development of resistance. This in vitro paper found that the new compound is 1000 fold more effective at destroying Enterococci, and is effective against Vancomycin Resistant Enterococci. Surgo is looking forwards to the new name this will be given, and how impossible it will be to learn.

Germany Gets Tough On Parents

Ever since the Andrew Wakefield MMR scandal children’s vaccinations have been a hot topic, and we have seen outbreaks of these preventable diseases across the world in areas that had previously been completely protected. The BBC reports that in Germany this year there has been a massive increase in the numbers of cases of measles, up from 325 during the whole of last year to 410 reported by mid-April this year. Following this the German government wants to tighten the law, although they do not want to make it an offence to refuse vaccines – unlike in Italy. They have proposed that parents must seek medical advice on vaccination or risk a fine of up to €2,500 and their child being kicked out of day-care. This follows on from a ruling in a German court where a father could vaccinate their child against the wishes of the mother. The lengths governments are now reaching to achieve the 95% vaccination rate need for protection are worrying and a sad reflection on how medicine has communicated these wonder treatments.

Pokémon Go, Could It Solve Obesity?

Remember the biggest hit of summer 2016, hordes of people running around their neighbourhoods in search of a Pokémon, that was Pokémon Go. At the time, there was much discussion if this was good for young people to spend their life wandering the streets with their face in their phone. The flipside of this was that at least it got them out their house, forcing them to go for a walk and increasing their step count. The BMJ felt this was a serious enough research question allowing it to be published in their respected journal. Researchers asked iPhone users to report their number of steps, automatically recorded in the health app, four weeks before installation of the app and for six weeks after installation of the app. From this they had 560 participants that reported playing Pokémon Go, within this group it was noted there was an increase of 955 steps during the first week of installation. However, 6 weeks after installation step levels had returned to pre-installation levels and therefore levels of physical activity had not increased in a sustainable manner. It would appear that computer games aren’t a valid excuse not to go to the gym that day.

The UK spends how much?

Often, we hear that we don’ t spend enough on our healthcare, and that the NHS needs more funding. This point is highly debatable, but a report released by the Office for National Statistics shows us how much we spent on healthcare in 2015, this amounted to 9.9% of gross domestic product (GDP). A percentage is always difficult to understand, to put that in cold hard cash that amounts to £185 billion, of which £147.1 billion was on government healthcare. That is a serious amount of cash and gets us a rank of 13 out of 35 amongst the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which is higher than the median and puts us at the same level as Norway (according to the ONS). However, when compared to the G7 we come 6th with only Italy funding healthcare at a lower level, at the top of the tree is the USA spending 16.9% of their GDP. These figures are available from the ONS website with loads more information, if that is your cup of tea. It makes good bed time reading material.