Category:
Medicine

The Anomaly That Wouldn’t Go Away

In medical literature, the "anomaly that wouldn't go away" refers to a finding published in 1978 by a group of Welsh doctors (Cochrane, St Leger, and Moore). They had set out to examine the relationship between health services and mortality in the major developed countries, but in doing so they came across a correlation that surprised them — the more doctors there were per capita, the higher was the rate of infant mortality.

The correlation wasn't a weak one. In fact, for infant mortality it was the strongest correlation in their study. The number of doctors per capita seemed to have a stronger negative impact on infant mortality than did the level of cigarette or alcohol consumption in the population.



Obviously the researchers found the correlation unsettling since, ideally, more doctors should result in fewer, not more, infants dying.

So why would more doctors correlate with higher infant mortality? The three doctors did their best to figure this out:



As the above passage indicates, they didn't think it was plausible that doctors themselves were somehow responsible for the elevated infant mortality, but nor could they come up with a satisfactory explanation for the correlation. So they called it "the anomaly that wouldn't go away."

I'm not sure if the correlation still holds true. I believe it still did about twenty years ago. Unfortunately much of the relevant literature is locked behind paywalls.

Over the years there have been quite a few attempts to explain the anomaly. I've listed two below. Again, I'm not sure if one has been accepted as THE explanation. So the anomaly may still persist.

C Buck & V Bacsi, "The doctor anomaly," Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 1979, 33:307.

It occurred to us that some of the countries richly endowed with physicians may obtain their large supplies by having bigger medical schools, larger classes, and thus less individual instruction of the medical student. The consequence could be a poorer standard of medical practice, the influence of which would be evident in the mortality of the younger age groups where the outcome of disease is most susceptible to the physician's skill.

F.W. Young, "An explanation of the persistent doctor-mortality association," Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 2001, 55:80-84.

The explanation proposed here is that, as compared with other regions, the expectation of opportunities in the growing industrial cities initially attracts an over supply of doctors. Once in practice, doctors in new regions enjoy fewer economies of scale, which means that they are more numerous as compared with the mature regions. These same industrialising cities attract rural immigrants whose health habits and supports break down in the context of city life. Thus, the places with the most doctors also have the highest death rates, but the two variables are associated only by common location.

More info (pdf): Cochrane, Leger, & Moore, "Health service 'input' and mortality 'output' in developed countries."

Posted By: Alex - Fri Dec 23, 2022 - Comments (9)
Category: Babies, Death, Medicine

Breakaway Stethoscope

Joshua Allen Stivers of Puyallup, WA recently received a patent for a "breakaway stethoscope." It works like a normal stethoscope, but breaks apart if someone tries to use it as a garrote to strangle a person:

Medical staff, such as doctors, nurses and technicians, are often required to deal with unruly and/or aggressive patients that may become violent and cause injury to themselves or others. Medical staff also often carry and wear a stethoscope while working and tend to rest the stethoscope around the neck and on the shoulders when not in use. Unfortunately, violent patients may see that as an opportunity to harm the doctor, nurse or technician by grabbing the stethoscope that is resting on the wearer's neck and strangle or injure the wearer and in some cases cause death. Thus, there is a need for a breakaway stethoscope that will separate into two or more pieces when forcefully pulled on or forcefully wrapped around a doctor's, nurse's, or technician's throat to prevent injury or death to the doctor, nurse or technician.


A quick google search reveals that stethoscopes become weapons disturbingly often. So it's kind of surprising that breakaway ones aren't already standard issue.

Derby Evening Telegraph - Aug 9, 1948



via Jeff Steck

Posted By: Alex - Thu Nov 17, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Crime, Medicine, Patents, Weapons

The Cures of Albert Abrams

As his Wikipedia page tells us:

Albert Abrams (December 8, 1863 – January 13, 1924) was a controversial American physician, well known during his life for inventing machines, such as the "Oscilloclast" and the "Radioclast", which he falsely claimed could diagnose and cure almost any disease.[1] These claims were challenged from the outset. Towards the end of his life, and again shortly after his death, many of his machines and conclusions were demonstrated to be intentionally deceptive or false.[2]


He actually published a whole periodical devoted to his theories. Read an issue here.

Hugo Gernsback, the father of modern science fiction, was having none of this, running the expose below in a 1923 issue of his magazine SCIENCE AND INVENTION.





Posted By: Paul - Fri Oct 14, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Frauds, Cons and Scams, Hoaxes and Imposters and Imitators, Medicine, Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil, 1920s

Dr. L. A. Sayre’s Apparatus

Not sure how long the patient was to remain suspended in order to achieve results.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Oct 09, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Inventions, Medicine, Nineteenth Century

Follies of the Madmen #542

Which booze does your doctor recommend?

Source.



Source of second ad.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Sep 27, 2022 - Comments (7)
Category: Medicine, Advertising, 1950s, Alcohol

Medicine, Mind and Music

Player embedded below the Tracklist. Enjoy!







Posted By: Paul - Sat Aug 06, 2022 - Comments ()
Category: Medicine, Music, 1970s, Brain

Usnea, or Skull Moss

Mummy, unicorn's horn, and bezoars appealed to the imagination because of their unusual character, but even the most commonplace substances might develop supposedly medicinal virtues if they had unusual or gruesome associations. Usnea was a substance of this nature. It was moss; not ordinary moss, but moss scraped from the skull of a criminal who had been hung in chains. Usnea was an official drug in the pharmacopeia until the nineteenth century; it was carried by all apothecary shops, and the first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica devoted a section to its curative properties. Usnea was present in the prescriptions of the best physicians over a period extending from the Middle Ages until well after the American Revolution.
Source: Howard W. Haggard, Devils, drugs, and doctors (1929).

image source: reddit



More info from Frances Larson, Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found (2014):

Paracelsus recommended the 'moss', or lichen, that grew on a dead man's skull for seizures and 'disorders of the head', and to bind wounds, on the basis that the 'vital spirit' released at death would be transferred from the skull into the lichen that started to grow on its surface. The fact that these skull-grown lichens were quite rare only increased the value of the cure. Skull moss seems to have been a particularly popular remedy in England and Ireland, perhaps because in these countries dead criminals were often left on public display until their flesh started to rot away and things began to grow on their bones. In 1694 it was reported that London druggists sold suitably mossy skulls for 8 to 11 shillings each, depending on the size and the amount of growth on them. . .

There were reports of people growing moss on stones and then spreading it onto the skulls of criminals, as a way of harvesting the tiny green plants for sale. In practice, apothecaries probably used anything that grew on skulls, and some things that did not grow on skulls, to maintain their supplies.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Apr 29, 2022 - Comments ()
Category: Death, Medicine, Patent Medicines, Nostrums and Snake Oil, Renaissance Era

Wiggle Room

Must have been a slow news day at the Newport Daily News (Newport, Rhode Island)
for 26 Jan 1966, Wed Page 22.



I assume everyone can picture Ann-Margret, Marlo Thomas and Ursula Andress. But for your benefit, here is wiggler Diane Cilento, Mrs. Sean Connery.

Posted By: Paul - Tue Mar 22, 2022 - Comments (1)
Category: Medicine, Sexuality, Studies, Reports, White Papers, Investigations, 1960s, Women

Beatniks Against Polio

What was the secret ingredient that made the rollout of the polio vaccine go so smoothly? Beatniks! If only we had some around today...

Article source: Nashville Banner (Nashville, Tennessee) 16 Aug 1956, Thu Page 13

Posted By: Paul - Wed Nov 10, 2021 - Comments ()
Category: Medicine, Bohemians, Beatniks, Hippies and Slackers, 1950s

Advice for Doctors, 1948

Posted By: Paul - Tue Sep 28, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Medicine, Smoking and Tobacco, 1940s

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