Human Factors, Systems Thinking and Teenage Drivers

One of my areas of interest is Human Factors/Ergonomics, and in particular it’s application to healthcare. However, by its very nature, it is applicable wherever you find humans. This is a recent article from ABC News discussing it in the context of teenage drivers.

Let’s stop blaming young drivers for their deadly road crashes

Let’s stop blaming young drivers for their deadly road crashes

As our holiday road death toll climbs, perhaps it’s time to stop attributing fatal accidents to inexperience, immaturity or even stupidity, and view the crashes as a failure in a system that should be protecting young drivers.


Vintage Justice


Harvey Weinstein and crumbling case for ‘vintage leniency’

Harvey Weinstein and crumbling case for ‘vintage leniency’


Following the recent controversy regarding Harvey Weinstein’s treatment of women, the above article was one of many that popped up in my newsfeed and it includes the following quote:

“I would like to take us back to the original excuses Weinstein and his enablers, namely his now former lawyer Lisa Bloom, initially offered to manage the scandal. Why? Because they are part of a growing trend of serial sexual predators of a certain age attempting to paint themselves as “retro sexists” to whom “vintage justice” should be applied. And in doing so, they are trying to normalise the idea that there is some “new” – only recently agreed upon – standard in relation to sexual harassment and assault.”

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Breathing System Filters

The following is a report that I wrote for our Anaesthesia Equipment Committee at John Hunter Hospital in June 2017, after concerns were raised about differences in performance of different filter types, and the possible cross-contamination risks resulting from this.


It has long been known that breathing circuits are a potential source of cross infection between patients . Of particular concern are hepatitis C and tuberculosis .  Eliminating this risk altogether seems unlikely, but there is ongoing debate about how best to reduce the risk, while also being conscious of financial and environmental concerns . The use of breathing system filters (BSF) is one approach that has tried to address some of the concerns, and the presumption that they protect the anaesthetic circuit from contamination by the patient and vice versa has led to the widespread adoption of BSFs as a way to reduce cost and waste by facilitating the reuse of the same circuit for multiple patients . However the practice is not universal , and no BSF is 100% effective at preventing contamination . Furthermore, as with any piece of medical equipment, the risks associated with the use of BSFs need to be considered along with their benefits . Many manufacturers now produce circuits  that are approved for use for up to 1 week as long as a new BSF is used for each patient . This is the current policy at John Hunter, with the proviso that the circuit is changed immediately if it is visibly soiled, has been used for a patient with a multidrug-resistant organism, or is excessively wet. If we assume this practice will continue, then the question that needs to be answered is which filter will best protect the circuit from contamination, and that question is the main focus of this report.

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15 Minutes of Fame

I’ve previously made it into the news a handful of times as a result of my melanoma and immunotherapy treatment. It was nice to make it in this time for something other than having cancer!

‘Human factors’ science turns to tackle improving outcomes in hospitals

‘Human factors’ science turns to tackle improving outcomes in hospitals

Research is underway looking at how ergonomics impacts patients in hospital with the aim of boosting the provision of care.


Garden Variety

“I said, ‘It’s certain there is no fine thing
Since Adam’s fall but needs much labouring.”
Adam’s Curse, W.B. Yeats

In the beginning, God created mankind to be gardeners. Unfortunately we stuffed it up, and it’s now not as easy as it should be! I never had much interest in gardening growing up, and my sporadic efforts at mowing the lawn or starting a herb garden once i moved out didn’t amount to much. Instead, I kind of fell into it by accident when we bought a house in 2009 that had a small front yard, and quite a sizeable back yard. They looked pretty barren, so I felt compelled to add something to this blank canvas. I had no idea where to start, but figured if i’m going to be spending a lot of time and money on this endeavour, then it would be nice to get something to eat from it along the way! So i focussed primarily on fruit and veggies, which, given my lack of any artistic flair, also provided the excuse that if it looked ugly, I could just pass if off as function over form!

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4 years and still kicking (& being kicked)

IMG_0144 2
Initial chest x-ray in the emergency department

Another day trip to Sydney, this time to Bondi. It would be great if I was going to “Sculpture by the Sea”, but no. Yet another medical appointment. Today marks 4 years since my health started unravelling. Living with cancer is tough. You often hear it described as a “battle”, however many don’t like that term as it infers that if you lose the battle you weren’t fighting hard enough. Those that do survive, must’ve fought harder. In my case I don’t think the analogy works anyway because the last few years has been a pretty passive process for me. Things being done *to* me rather than *by* me. It’s often felt like I’m just curled up in a ball while cancer kicks me repeatedly. Occasionally it, or perhaps more accurately, the treatment side-effects, seem to get bored and leave me alone for a little bit and I can catch my breath. But when I do try to get up & do something, I get whacked from behind again and I’m back on the ground.

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Cancer and work: A compatible duo?

The question “Cancer and work: A compatible duo?” was posed by the headline of an SMH article. My current answer is “Just barely!”

I can certainly relate to a lot of the issues discussed in the article about the pros and cons of working following a life changing medical diagnosis. But it should be obvious that there is no clear cut answer to the question, and it will inevitably change over time for any given individual as a result of disease progression/regression, as well as the duration, impact, and side-effect of any treatments. Following my diagnosis, the presence of brain mets meant that working (and many other things!) was immediately off the cards due to patient safety concerns. Not that i could’ve worked anyway due to my emotional state and the torrent of further investigations and medical appointments that came my way. and the prognosis was so bad that i gave up any hope of a return to work. However, following my dramatic response to treatment, and a gradual improvement in my symptoms, the theoretical possibility of returning to work arose. I was still in two minds though, trying to weigh up the benefits of working mentioned by the author, but has he also points out, working was now less of a priority for me, and i didn’t know how long my improved health would last. In the end, i did make to gradual transition back into the work force, but even now i still feel the tension of that question, as being sick is still essentially a part-time job in and of itself for me, with all the ongoing medical appointments, scans and blood tests. There is also the new and unusual side-effects that crop up from time to time from the immunotherapy, as well as the side-effects from the drugs used the treat the side-effects! So while i am managing to combine cancer and work at the moment, it is a question i will need to keep asking myself from time to time.

Diagnosis Revisited

This is another post from my old blog, which will give some background to where I am today.


Debbie: Can i ask you a question?
The Grim Reaper: What?!
Debbie: How can we all have died at the same time?
The Grim Reaper: The salmon mousse!
Male Host: Darling you didn’t use canned salmon, did you?
Female Host: I’m most dreadfully embarrassed!
Monty Python, The Meaning of Life

I thought it would be good to document how my diagnosis came about…it really was one of those “bolts from the blue”.

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Blogging: Take 2

This is not my first attempt at a blog. Not long after I was diagnosed with melanoma in 2013 I had a brief foray into blogging. It didn’t last too long, but I thought I’d kick of this site with the first post from my previous site, so I’ve just cut and pasted it below.


The Inevitable Descent into the Blogosphere

“Some guy on the net thinks I suck and he should know
He’s got his own blog”
A Working Day – Nick Hornby/Ben Folds

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