Archive for the ‘Medicine’ Category

Singaporean Television Drama – The Oath

Loathe as I am to admit it, the medical drama The Oath by Wawa Productions, is actually quite entertaining to watch.

The Oath

It’s so bad, it’s good. It’s like how forensic experts roll their eyes at the popular show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and lament how juries in the US nowadays expect the same impossible magic before convicting criminals (“What, you don’t have DNA evidence + tire trails + electronic money trail + 5 CCTV surveillance tapes + trace chemicals matching the one from this obscure chemical plant 20 years ago, we can’t convict this robber!”)

Similarly, we have actually had people ask: “Can poking the fingertips and rubbing the ears help to treat acute stroke?”

The Oath Episode 1

Then there’s this blood-vomitus-inducing car accident part at 12:30 of the above video that explains why the character acted by Christopher Lee basically got kicked out of medical school for general quackery. First, please contrast what happened in the above video with the below video (read: Singaporean scriptwriters may have copied a few things from more successful dramas)

Iryu Team Medical Dragon Episode 1

It starts from 0:45min, where they make a judgement after listening for breathing and percussing for hyperresonance that this lady has suffered bilateral spontaneous pneumothorax requiring urgent needle (pen) decompression to buy time pending arrival of the ambulance.

Now compare that with The Oath, where the medical student played by Christopher Lee on his way to an exam runs to a polytrauma patient from a road traffic accident, does not try to assess / open the airway, does not listen for breathing, and proceeds to jab a pen into her chest. Nice. The blog link above says it’s a cricothyroidotomy but the area of insertion is wrong, it’s more likely an improvised needle decompression.

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Donorweb – Your blood is replaceable… a life is NOT !

As a practising physician who uses blood products, I feel compelled to walk the talk and donate blood on a regular basis. If you are keen to donate blood for the first time in Singapore and are not sure how to go about it, go onto the website and take a look.

Donorweb – Your blood is replaceable… a life is NOT !

On Donorweb, you can see the current blood stocks in Singapore (at the time of posting low in A and O), upcoming Bloodmobile Drives to look for one near your place of residence/work, see where you can donate blood at Bloodbank@HSA, Bloodban@Woodlands, and have your queries on the forums.

That said, you can also donate blood at NUH, as I just did a couple of days ago. I have a fondness for NUH because it’s the first place I donated at. If you drive and park at NUH you can get a carpark redemption voucher. Unlike my previous post which stated 3 months, now the time in between donations is 16 weeks (4 months)

Go forth, you can save lives too!

Video – Call Day

A light-hearted look at the crushing feeling that we feel on call.


Pride, Honesty and Money

Thinking about the days seeing report sick in the military, one notes that there was a certain refreshing honesty to it. Compare the following scenarios of a 20 year-old NSF recruit reporting sick on Sunday evening:

“Hi Doctor, I have sore throat. My sore throat very bad one, every time sure need antibiotics. Also, can I have MC for today and tomorrow.”

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Office Talk – keep your mouth shut and your ass clean

There is no profession without office politics at all levels. The more people have to lose, the more people are forced to play the game. House officers are the most free. There is no ultimate responsibility, because of the ability to escalate upwards. No-one expects house officers to think at a higher level, so the ones who do are seen as exceeding expectations. And the politics are the least because nobody at the higher levels generally cares about which individual house officer is better – except the rubbish ones who endanger patient lives.

Remember this: People talk. People remember. The impressions people have of you begin from medical school clinical postings. Don’t burn your bridges, you’ll need them in the future. Furthermore, the medical community is small and word spreads fast. An indiscretion can affect your career chances.

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Vaccines – a victim of its on effectiveness

The other day, J. was discussing the recent flu vaccine with his cousin who said that “vaccines are not really necessary now, right? there’s not a lot of these diseases around anyway”.

Sarcastic analogy time!

You know, J. believes that proper sewerage systems are overrated and a waste of money. Look around you now. What is the incidence rate of cholera in Singapore? All these sewer systems can break down, burst open the road and cause road disruptions. They are a waste of taxpayers money. Sewerage systems bad.

End of analogy!

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First Impressions – Not Stepping Up to the Plate = BAD

A new medical officer (NMO) joined the department and was assigned to a surgical team. An experienced medical officer (EMO1) was on call for the operating room call (this MO stays in the OT/OR, does the small cases like amputations, saucerisations and appendicectomies, as well as assisting in larger cases like laparotomies) on the same day as a department farewell dinner. He was looking for someone to ‘sell’ his call to.

Operating room calls are hot stuff, they sell like hotcakes to the surgically inclined. Almost every surgical trainee (or surgical trainee wannabe) appreciates more experience in the operating room. Furthermore, OT calls involve no direct responsibility for patients (As compared to the A&E or ward calls), allowing the on-call to focus purely on gaining more surgical exposure.

EMO1 entered the MO room (containing NMO, J., H, K and TJ) and asks to swap out a call. J., H and K are on call the day after EMO1. TJ is on call the day before. So EMO1 asks NMO since (a) he has no calls in that period of time (b) he wants to do surgery (c) he’s a new MO and thus really doesn’t need to go for the department farewell dinner. NMO politely declines since he “doesn’t want to do calls so early”, and wants to do “tag-on calls” first. EMO1 shrugs and says he will just do the call then.

TJ, who is also an experienced MO (EMO2), can barely hide his contempt: NMO is “the person who says he wants to do surgery but doesn’t want to do an OT call”, instead, he wants to do “tag-on calls” – voiced with a tone of disdain accompanied by airquote gestures.

Really, that’s not the way to start building your reputation on your first surgical rotation.