Monday, July 13, 2020

Inside medicine’s culture of racism, bullying and harassment

I have no doubt that the instances described below did happen.  What I doubt is that they are common.  The medical profession encounters many of the hard edges of human society so is less idealistic.  As a result they can be cynical and reserved in their approach to others.

I see something of that when I meet a medical practitioner who is new to me.  When they hear that I am a retired university lecturer, their attitude to me visibly warms.  I become one of them rather than someone who has to be approached with caution. And I do generally get on well with doctors.

So I can see that doctors have been hardened by experience and that might make them unsympathetic or abrupt on occasions.  But does that do much harm?  One would think that Asian students might be treated unkindly and I believe that they are on occasions.  But the large numbers of Asian doctors I encounter one way or another tells me that they are pretty good at surviving any such travails.  The large number of female doctors tells a similar story

And the assumption that receivers of donor sperm usually prefer Caucasians as the donors is not ignorant. It is simply wrong. The fact is that Caucasian types are overwhelmingly preferred by recipients.  England gets a high proportion of its donated sperm from Denmark, where blue eyes and blond hair are common.  The Viking invasion is not over!

So the claim that medicine has a culture of racism, bullying and harassment surely has  something to it but not much

Being told indirectly that, unless you’re a white man, no one is going to want your sperm is not something you forget.

But medical students say racist slurs, social exclusion, gender discrimination and inappropriate jibes from their superiors are a common experience and it highlights the need for urgent changes in the industry.

Sam, a fifth-year medical student who is a person of colour, says bullying is “endemic” in medicine, especially if you are not white.

He has been subject to a number of slurs, including one incident a few weeks ago involving a midwife in the IVF ward of a Sydney hospital.

The student was in the room when a group of nurses were discussing a female patient who had requested an Asian sperm donor. “(The midwife) said, ‘I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to use caucasian sperm’,” Sam explained.

And Sam’s not alone. Many of his peers have also endured deeply unpleasant experiences.

Another fifth-year student, Tim*, said he benefited from being a white man in the medical industry and wanted to do more to help his international colleagues.

“It’s difficult to report because a lot of this stuff toes the line. It’s not like someone has slapped you across the face; it’s usually much less obvious,” Tim said.

One example he gave involved a teacher who was very particular about students arriving to class on time, and wouldn’t let them in if they were late.

“One day I arrived a few minutes late and he said, ‘Don’t worry, come in and sit down.’ But a student from an Indian background arrived straight after me and he wouldn’t let him in,” Tim explained.

“Then I noticed it was a repetitive thing. He’d let the caucasian students in but not the international students. It’s just not good enough.”

From belittling, to sexist comments and favouring male colleagues, sexism in medicine has also been allowed to flourish.

One female medical students told NCA NewsWire she was placed in a male-dominated team that made jokes about women being in surgery.

“They would say, ‘Why are you here? You need a family-friendly career,’” the student said.

“I couldn’t report it because I was the only female student in there and it would have been obvious that it was me.”

A second female student said while her experiences had been good, everyone assumed she was a nurse, not a doctor.

“Most of my teachers always refer to doctors being a ‘he’ and nurses being a ‘she’,” the student explained.

Sam supported those comments saying when he entered a theatre no one asked any questions, but when females do they were queried.

All four students described being ignored or hounded in front of patients or fellow staff.

When Tim spent time as part of a neurosurgery team, he should have done ward rounds and accompanied seniors into surgery. Instead, he was ignored.

“When they found out I was a student and not doctor, they wouldn’t even acknowledge me or say hello. This continued the entire time,” he said.

“For the majority of that term, it wasn’t what they were saying; it was them not saying anything.”

And when they were speaking, they often spent it belittling the Sydney student.

He said things escalated when he noticed a patient wasn’t responding to questions and failed to open her eyes, or move her hands.

“I thought, ‘this could be life-threatening’ so I said to the doctor, ‘Shouldn’t we do something? She doesn’t look good.’ But in front of everyone, they would be really dismissive and start asking things like, ‘What do you think is wrong with her? What should you do?’” he said.

“That patient was quite ill and no one was doing something about it.”

While not all doctors gave students a rough time, many have experienced verbal abuse, social exclusion, racial discrimination, gender stereotyping and general rudeness, usually from surgeons and physicians.

A report, published by BMC Medical Education and driven by fifth year UNSW Medicine student Laura Colenbrander, found in the past year alone Bankstown-Lidcombe, St George, Royal Prince Alfred, Westmead and Tamworth hospitals had all made headlines regarding mistreatment of junior doctors.

The hierarchical structure of medicine fuelled the “endemic culture” of bullying and harassment, often perpetrated by senior staff, Ms Colenbrander’s study found.

All four students said the hierarchy created barriers to reporting mistreatment, as they feared they would be labelled a troublemaker.

Students were also concerned it would affect career progression or that reporting avenues did not guarantee confidentiality or an outcome.

“Senior doctors were overwhelmingly considered unapproachable because they were ‘self-important’, sexist, uninterested, too busy, or participants feared verbal abuse,” the report states.

Australian Medical Students Association president Daniel Zou said the reporting processes for bullying and harassment remained unclear to many medical students.

“There should be confidential, easily accessible, clearly communicated and consistent reporting pathways available for all medical students,” he told NCA NewsWire.

“In many hospitals and medical schools, there are no guaranteed confidential reporting processes or anonymous reporting processes. For those hospitals and medical schools that do, they are oftentimes confusing pathways, inaccessible and ineffectual.”

Tim argued the industry had a responsibility to teach students about what bullying and harassment was.

“There are a lot of things we didn’t realise were serious,” he said. “And a lot of medical students won’t report it because we know nothing will happen. It’s not a big enough issue to bring up with top-level hospital management.”

Of the four study participants in Ms Colenbrander’s research who had reported an incident or knew someone who had, none had experienced desired outcomes.

This included sexist behaviour from surgeons on which the clinical school had insufficient authority to act.

This harassment extends beyond students. In 2015, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) confirmed more than 50 per cent of doctors and trainees (not including medical students) had been bullied or harassed, with verbal harassment among consultants most commonly cited.

Ms Colenbrander said the issue of bullying and harassment “spoke to her” because she knew many students who had experienced this in a hospital setting. “It just seemed widespread,” Ms Colenbrander told NCA NewsWire.

“Personally my experiences have been really positive. I’ve had great teachers and experiences but I’ve also definitely experienced the underbelly of medicine.”

According to a survey released by the Medical Board of Australia, one in three trainee doctors in Australia have experienced or witnessed bullying, harassment or discrimination in the past 12 months.

However, only a third have done anything about it, with 57 per cent believing they would suffer negative consequences if they reported the inappropriate behaviour.

And mistreatment of medical students will no doubt have long-term consequences on the nation’s future doctors.

“It has an epidemic bullying culture. Medicine isn’t immune from the stuff that happens in other professions. It’s still very rife and still there,” Sam said. “These are the people that look after you, so why can’t they look after their own.”


Victorian woman is hit with massive $1,652 fine for breaking coronavirus lockdown because she fed her pet horse

This is authoritarian nonsense.  There has to be some flexibility in such matters. One size does NOT fit all.   People love their horses. They are big babies. What was wrong with just giving her a caution?  Minor crimes are often disposed of that way

A Victorian woman has been slapped with a $1,652 fine for breaking coronavirus lockdown rules by travelling 13km to feed her pet horse. 

Karen Evans, of Ferntree Gully, was issued an infringement notice for delivering food to her 16-year-old horse Lily after stage three restrictions were reimposed in parts of the state.

Stay-at-home orders were placed on residents in Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire from 11.59pm Wednesday in a bid to stem the second wave of COVID-19 surging through the city.

The reimposed measure means residents are only permitted to leave home for work, exercise, medical care or to buy essential supplies.

Ms Evans said she pulled over returning home, but the officer told her she had an insufficient excuse to leave the house. 

'I said I've got no-one else to feed my horse for me,' Ms Evans told 7NEWS.

'So, he's just like well you do understand I have to fine you.

'I said this is ridiculous you can't fine me for caregiving just because she's not a human being.'

Ms Evans said she was angered by the incident believes that power was getting the heads of some members of the police force.

It is not the first time Victoria police have issued questionable coronavirus-related fines.

During the first lockdown, officers withdrew fines for a 16-year old learner driver in the car with her mother and a man washing his car.

The following month, In May, Victorian police officers were told to use 'increased discretion' and get permission first from supervisors after the state raked in almost $5million from residents deemed to be 'breaking the rules'.


The use of a newly approved drug to treat COVID-19 will be limited to treating patients hospitalised with the virus

The Therapeutic Goods Administration on Friday night approved the use of anti-viral drug remdesivir for use on coronavirus patients.

Deputy Chief Health Officer Nick Coatsworth said on Saturday that the approval of remdesivir came with some caveats including that it would not be prescribed to people in the community.

Instead, he said, only patients hospitalised by COVID-19 would be given remdesivir, sold under the brand name Veklury.

"The important thing to note about any of these medications, of course, is that none of them as yet are a silver bullet," Dr Coatsworth said.

"It's a drug that is a direct-acting antiviral. What does that mean? It means that it stops the virus from multiplying further in the body."

But international trials had shown remdesivir might be effective in patients with moderate to severe COVID-19, he said.

"They include a reduction in the length of hospital stay, and a potential reduction in the serious adverse events that coronavirus sufferers can get during their episode of coronavirus disease," he said.

"What we don't know yet is whether it has a conclusive effect on mortality."

Gilead Sciences, the company behind remdesivir, said an analysis showed its antiviral drug had helped reduce the risk of death in severely ill COVID-19 patients, but cautioned that rigorous clinical trials were needed to confirm the benefit.

Remdesivir has been at the forefront of the global battle against COVID-19 after the intravenously administered medicine helped shorten hospital recovery times, according to data in April from a separate US government trial.

Gilead's late-stage study evaluated the safety and efficacy of five-day and 10-day dosing durations of remdesivir in hospitalised patients. The study did not have a placebo comparison.

Dr Susan Olender from Columbia University Irving Medical Centre said in the Gilead statement that the analysis drew from a real-world setting and served as an important adjunct to clinical trial data even though it is not as vigorous as a randomised controlled trial.

Dr Walid Gellad, a professor at University of Pittsburgh’s medical school, called it "a joke" to compare clinical trial data with observational data and conclude anything definitive about mortality.

Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said on Saturday that the state's clinical community would look at remdesivir and "love to have have it available for them" to use.

He said it was one of a number of drugs which could assist patients facing severe COVID-19 symptoms.

He said that while the Australian government would try to secure its own supply, stocks were affected because the "US really went very hard in gobbling up the entire global supply".

"Remdesivir is another drug that is showing some effects, possibly not as strong as the simple and cheap dexamethasone steroid drug, but it certainly has a role, and it seems to reduce the amount of time people are ill for and require in hospital," Professor Sutton said.

"It may have less of an effect on death rates ... but will be part of the (arsenal) clinicians will look to."

Meanwhile, Dr Coatsworth said the wearing of masks should be part of a suite of protective measures.

"We have been very clear that when community transmission goes up masks do have a value," he said.

On vaccines, Dr Coatsworth said Australia needed to prepare for a world without a vaccine for two years.

"That would be a very judicious way of responding to COVID-19, and the reality I think is that there are so many people looking at a vaccine at the moment," he said.

"There's at least two novel vaccine development methodologies that are being rolled out ... there is so much effort going into this that I think we should be hopeful that we can get a vaccine for COVID-19."


Brisbane airport flying high with new runway

New runways worldwide are almost always publicly opposed by Greenies and Nimbys so this is a real achievement for Australia

Lengthy delays at Brisbane Airport will be a thing of the past after its new $1.1 billion parallel runway opened today.

Airport capacity will soar from 50 flight movements an hour to 110 – putting it on par with Sydney, Changi in Singapore and Hong Kong airports.

Brisbane Airport Corporation boss Gert-Jan de Graaff said the runway was more than a slab of very expensive asphalt.

“When I look at that 3.3km stretch of runway, I see hope,” he said. “Brisbane is in an ideal position to take advantage of all opportunities on the road to recovery from COVID.

“Today we are making history … and very soon, once again, we will be connecting the world.”

The $1.1 billion privately-funded project employed more than 3740 people during its construction phase.

After a turbulent start to the year as home carrier Virgin Australia’s finances plumetted due to coronavirus travel bans – flight VA78 had the honour of making the first departure.

Piloted by Captain John Ridd and First Officer Troy Parker, the plane flew to Cairns to highlight the connection to the state’s regions.

A crowd of about 200 people, including 10 local plane spotters who had won a prized place at the event, watched on as vintage planes spiralled through the sky in an aerobatics show to celebrate the World War II airfield’s rich history.


 Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

1 comment:

Paul said...

So by the time they give the drug (in hospital) the immune system has already started doing damage, so the drug will probably be less effective than if given early to reduce the viral load, hence reduce the intensity of the immune response. That's a very Medicare-funding way of approaching things.

If expecting the Diversities to come up to the expected standard, and not use the race card to make their lives easier, then I guess Medicine is racist, since racism is now defined as not granting special dispensation to the diversities so they don't have to achieve at the same level in study, work and life.