Professing Gardeners

I didn’t really get into gardening until we bought our house that had a back and front-yard that were pretty much empty slates. So I started digging around, both literally in the garden and metaphorically on-line. After a few hits and misses, I came across something that was right up my alley. It was a group of academic horticulturalists and botanists, all with PhD’s, who called themselves “The Garden Professors”. They have a blog, a Facebook group, and multiple book publications between them. But probably their most helpful resource so far has been this collection of Horticultural Myths and factsheets. The reason I enjoyed their material so much was because their main focus was to apply scientific principles and peer reviewed research to the world of home gardening, so as an anaesthetist with an honours degree in biochemistry and a new found love of gardening, I could really sink my teeth into it. I like to think of it as “Evidence-Based Gardening” (EBG)! The internet is full of gardening woo, as are many books by so-called experts, so it was quite refreshing to have some more objective input, and I quickly identified numerous mistakes I’d made by following advice from some “Garden Guru”.

However, as much as I’ve learnt from The Garden Professors, and enjoyed reading their publications, Evidence-Based Gardening (EBG) faces many of the same challenges as Evidence-Based Medicine. There are many gaps in the evidence, and often what evidence is available, isn’t directly applicable to my specific situation, whether that be rainfall, available light, temperature extremes and so on. I think gardening faces an additional challenge in that it is much harder to procure funding for horticultural research as opposed to medical research, so they are often left to extrapolate data from agriculture where much more funding is available.

At the end of the day though, gardening for me is about more than just have perfect plants and following strict rules about what I can and can’t do. So while I am keen to continue my EBG practices where possible, I will also, like medicine, remember that it is an art as well, and maybe even a little bit of woo from time to time!

These are the deadliest times for traffic collisions

This is a rather sobering infographic on road fatalities in Australia. This is a complex problem so using simple, reductionist solutions won’t work. Instead we need to use a systems thinking approach. This quote sums it up pretty well:

“We know in road safety that focusing on individual behaviour is not helpful … You actually have to change the system so that when people make mistakes they’re not penalised by dying.”

These are the deadliest times for traffic collisions

These are the deadliest times for traffic collisions

New figures reveal the most dangerous times to be on the road for young drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and other road users.

Source: www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-25/every-road-death-in-australia-since-1989/9353794?pfmredir=sm

 

Rethinking the causes of road trauma: society’s problems must share the blame

Rethinking the causes of road trauma: society’s problems must share the blame

Rethinking the causes of road trauma: society’s problems must share the blame

Wider societal issues are driving road user behaviour, which cannot be fixed by taking a traditional road safety approach.

Source: theconversation.com/rethinking-the-causes-of-road-trauma-societys-problems-must-share-the-blame-82383

Hawaii False Alarm

The recent ballistic missile false alarm in Hawaii made headlines around the world. It was pretty quickly revealed that it occurred as the result of an employee selecting the wrong option from a menu of different options. There were two very similarly worded options, one for a “test” alert, and one for an actual alert. He selected, and then confirmed, the wrong one. Anyone who has used a computer for even a short period of time is aware of this potential error. It is rather disconcerting that a safety critical system such as this one doesn’t appear to have utilised any Human Factors/Ergonomics input or Usability Testing.

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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.

Source: www.abc.net.au/news/2018-01-01/road-toll-young-people-driver-behaviour-texting-drugs/9291678

Vintage Justice

 

Harvey Weinstein and crumbling case for ‘vintage leniency’

Harvey Weinstein and crumbling case for ‘vintage leniency’

Source: www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/news-and-views/harvey-weinstein-and-crumbling-case-for-vintage-leniency-20171012-gyzi2e.html

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.

Introduction

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.

Source: www.abc.net.au/news/2017-09-27/study-underway-into-how-human-factors-impact-care-in-hospitals/8987732

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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