Sometimes, in an attempt to persuade someone resistant to a particular idea or intervention, the temptation is to push harder. In medicine, it might be done by addressing any anxieties that our patient might have. When this approach fails, we might even highlight the risks of not taking the advice. Occasionally though, the resistance can’t be …Read the Rest

We can all learn something from Bruce Springsteen. Even those who aren’t fans of Springsteen’s music will be aware that his live performances, even now that he is in his mid-sixties, are legendary for their duration and for their intensity. He is also extraordinarily articulate and insightful about the psychological process of performance. In an …Read the Rest

“I learned that whatever we say means nothing, what anyone will remember is that we came” (Julia Kasdorf) The “rituals and practices around death”, poet and Undertaker Thomas Lynch writes in his book ’The Good Funeral’, “are a window into the soul of a culture. A society that is unsure about how to care for …Read the Rest

I’ve just returned from my specialty’s annual scientific meeting in Boston. The meeting truly is the ‘Virgin Megastore’ of our specialty, with over 15,000 delegates, 3,000 scientific abstracts, hundreds of oral presentations, ‘meet the professor’ and review sessions. Whereas very few unexpected medical breakthroughs are ever revealed at the meeting, it is a unique opportunity …Read the Rest

I’m here. This time, as I say goodbye to my wife and kids, I know that it will be for the last time. My mind drifts inevitably to the fatal accident that will take me, the tears of my wife and children as they attempt to identify my charred and mangled remains, and even what …Read the Rest

A medical friend of mine was telling me recently that her son, a first-year medical student, was heading off that day to take his first clinical history. She was a little nervous on his behalf and was doing her best to give him a few tips on how to approach the encounter. “I’ll be grand, …Read the Rest

Stuck for a gift for the microbiologist in your life? Look no further than the ‘Infectious wearables’ website ( Their online store features a selection of very reasonably priced ($35) (€27.5) ties with a twist; each garment features a brightly-coloured photomicrograph of bacteria and infectious agents including anthrax, avian flu, clostridium difficile, hepatitis B and …Read the Rest

I was at a wonderful presentation by a senior colleague recently. Close to retirement, he had been invited to offer some pearls of wisdom to those attending. In doing so he presented a litany of misdiagnoses, delayed diagnoses, mistreatments and treatment failures he had made over the years. We all cringed, squirmed and groaned on …Read the Rest

As my 50th birthday party celebration approaches, my teenage kids grow increasingly anxious about the prospect of watching their dad ‘getting down’ on the dance floor on the big night. I understand completely. It’s not an attractive sight. Spare a thought then for the family of a 50-year-old ‘dad dancer’ who sustained a subdural haemorrhage …Read the Rest

I always get excited about going on holidays. There’s the anticipation of down-time away from work for relaxation, sleeping, eating, reading, and some quality time with my family. Life is just going to be better on holidays. I just know it is. Of course it is. A few days after my arrival, I eventually ‘land’. …Read the Rest