Thursday, February 18, 2010

Checklists for surgical safety

Just caught a piece on Radio 4's You and Yours consumer programme about using checklists in the NHS, with a speaker from Patient Safety First, which turns out to be an NHS body. The list is undertaken before surgery, by the team doing that surgery. I am not clear why the piece made it onto the radio today rather than any other day - maybe there was a space today, rather than anything being launched today. The Patient Safety First site links to a case study of checklists being used at Barts and the London, and a web search turns up an adaptation for the NHS in England and Wales of the WHO checklist, which has been around for a little while. Atul Gawande has also just written a book about using such lists in the USA, which I am waiting to see.

Anyway, today is as good a day as any to mention it - it is an important topic of interest to all those who work in operating theatres. The list being described on the radio asks all the perioperative staff to introduce themselves to each other, as well as asking people to check that they have all necessary X rays and so on, and checking that everyone knows the site of the surgery. The WHO list does these things.

Here are some links:

Case report on Patient Safety First site;
WHO checklist adapted for the NHS in England and Wales;
WHO site including English language checklist and manual;
Atul Gawande's book at University of Leicester Library

Friday, February 05, 2010

Changes to PubMed

These changes, announced in a recent NLM Technical Bulletin, are now live:

"Limits" now appears as an option on the one line search screen - it did appear only on the Advanced Search screen for a while.

If you switch from one line to Advanced search, the one line search that you have been doing is now cleared - it used to stay there.

The Advanced Search screen will change - instead of the present three lines, with option to add more, there is a "search builder" - I had thought that this would enable you to add as many lines as you like, with the appropriate Boolean operators in between but in fact it seems to add your search terms to the basic search box, with the Boolean operators you choose. This seems a little like the "send to search box with..." that appears in the MeSH browser.

This post replaces the original, which had an inappropriate comment added that I could not work out how to remove.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Citizen science

Added to in March 2010.

Well, it was the same story yesterday as it is every year. I decide not to do my bit for the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch in the morning, but later in the day. Later in the day, of course, all the birds have vanished. Yesterday, just one blackbird, one wren and two sparrows were present, even though earlier there had been more sparrows, and, of course, outside the front of the house, where I was not counting, there were more too.

I am sure there are good explanations for this, although there is not really a good explanation for my continued refusal to do the survey in the morning!

This birdwatch is an example of "citizen science", science data gathering using as many people in the general population as want to. This enables interested people to participate in scientific research, and might, I guess, also increase those people's knowledge.

The RSPB are interested in seeing how many of particular birds appear in your garden (or park) at one time. You can only count your garden, and you can't count things that just fly over. When you report the results, you can give information about your garden - size, distance from fields, types of trees, that sort of thing. Because you can't count other people's gardens, we have to ignore the trees that we can see from our house, and this means ignoring the crows that are nesting nearby, but the hope is that the owner of those trees is also counting.

Some time ago BBC Radio 4 ran a series on Citizen Science, and the programmes are still there to be listened to. The series covers other initiatives - SETI@Home uses home computers to analyse radio frequency data from space for patterns, and other initiatives do similar things to molecular structures looking for ones that might make good medicines. These use computers' "idle time".

Wikipedia also has an entry (that needs work) that lists some initiatives, primarily American ones.

Addition: Have just (29 March) come across this, in Research Information. It discusses a JISC project, as well as giving more examples of citizen science.