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News Bulletin : ADA News Bulletin February 2011
44 FEBRUARY 2011 clinical hints emerged from the caisson, some of them could have been used as a prop at the end of a grand prix race. Your Recorder assures readers that there is no way he will ever consume his sparkling white under these circumstances, no matter how great the temptation. CAPITAL PUNISHMENT It is sad that some human beings do such terrible things that other human beings decide that they must be killed. It is the ultimate punishment, which some support and others condemn. Many methods have been used over the centuries: drowning in swamps, garrotting, poison, stoning, the rack, burning at the stake, beheading, the guillotine, the gallows, firing squad, lethal injection, the electric chair and probably others. Dr Alfred P Southwick, a dentist from Buffalo, New York, is said to have invented the electric chair. He saw an inebriated man touch a live wire, and noted that the man's death was quick and, he thought, painless. Being a dentist, he was familiar with metal chairs with arms, and designed an 'electric chair'. He worked with David B Hill, Governor of the State, to help pass laws making execution by electricity legal. It became legal on January 1, 1889. On August 6, 1890, William Kemmler was the first person executed by electricity. Southwick was present, and said: "This is the culmination of ten years work and study. We live in a higher civilisation from this day". More and more people, states and nations disagree, and have abandoned capital punishment. RUMPOLE OF THE BAILEY Horace Rumpole is John Mortimer's unforgettable barrister in books and TV series, featuring Horace and his wife Hilda (She who must be obeyed). The TV series of Horace's cases starred Leo McKern, who made the character his very own. Leo, now deceased, was a dinki-di Aussie, who used to imbibe fermented and spirituous beverages in a well-known watering hole in Earls Court, London, 'The King's Head'. This was the gathering place for Aussie dentists on Fridays (Fellers' Night), and Leo kept us amused with stories from stage, screen and TV. Leo was true typecasting, and emulated Rumpole's predeliction for the cup that cheers, but drank beer, unlike Rumpole, who preferred 'Chateau Thames Embankment' rough red. Your Commentator was cheered to read that Rumpole got his priorities right† when Hilda wanted £300 to spend on new chair covers. His response was: "Three hundred pounds! Hilda, do you think I'm made of money? Besides, that represents, at a rough estimate, almost one hundred bottles of Pommery's claret-style plonk..." Your Recorder's response would have been similar, but in his case the estimate would have been "almost one hundred bottles of cut-price sparkling white..." FOURTY OF FORTY Nearly all readers know that the correct spelling of 40 is forty, but the correct spelling of 4 is four. Your Wordsmith was puzzled at this apparent anomaly, but it certainly goes back to Samuel Johnson's Dictionary, circa 1750. Banks have noted that a cheque for four dollars could be exaggerated by adding 'ty' to the four and a zero to the number 4, thus enhancing the apparent value of the cheque from $4 to $40. They thus refused to honour a cheque written for fourty dollars. But there was little they could do about six, seven, eight and nine? A 'ty' on the end of them would be an even better 'little earner'. PTFE This is the identifier for Polytetrafluoroethylene, which DuPont calls Teflon®. Almost everyone would agree that it is inert, and that it has made cleaning frypans a breeze. But the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just fined DuPont $16 million (USD) for hiding test results that show that their plant in West Virginia was contaminating nearby water with a nasty chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid, which is a carcinogen. The Teflon itself is OK. Du Pont said they will replace the offending chemical with a safe alternative. GERM WARFARE Quest is a magazine recording some of the research conducted at Macquarie University. The cover story of Issue 3, 2010 is: 'War on bacteria futile'.‡ The opening sentence says: "According to the television commercials, we should have floors so clean and germ-free we could eat off them." But Professor Michael Gillings says that the phobia of germs whipped up by commercial interests is running absolutely counter to everything we know about disease control and about the way bacteria evolve. He says: "If people sterilise everything all the time, they are selecting for stronger and stronger antimicrobial resistance. We are now reaching the stage where some bacterial infections cannot be cured with antibiotics". Gillings blames the rise in developed nations' diseases, such as asthma, eczema, allergies and autoimmune diseases †See 'Rumpole and the gentle art of blackmail'. on over-cleanliness, and suggests that constant exposure to low levels of germs would strengthen immunity. "You can't beat bacteria. You can control them to a certain degree, but you can never conquer them... A lot of people don't realise that humans are covered in bacteria. There are billions of human cells in a human, but the number of bacterial cells on and in a human is probably 10 times as high... They live on and in us; they give us vitamins and nutrients; they protect us from various infections... This talk about sterilising toilets, sterilising floors, not touching shopping trolleys and hand rails, is ridiculous. Simple hygiene is best; washing hands before preparing food, after a toilet visit, after handling dirty items. Just use soap. There is no need at all for disinfectants". "We need a more rational approach, and a decreasing emphasis on the idea that this is a war between microorganisms and humans, because that is a war that we are never going to win. We must have more rational and measured approaches to using antibiotics, disinfectants and antimicrobials generally, using them only when necessary, and then sparingly. We should rotate antibiotic use in hospitals to reduce resistance and curtail use before resistance appears, not after. Once resistant organisms are in the environment, we are stuck with them." Late-breaking news: Since the above was written, The Week magazine reported that Gilberto Igrejas and his team at University of Tras-os-Montes in Portugal have reported that seagulls living near major urban centres can pick up resistant bacteria from garbage and medical waste and spread them through bird droppings. Ibises and pelicans can do the same. CLINICAL HINTS Neither your Columnist nor the ADA endorse these hints. Your colleagues submit them because they find them helpful, but it is your decision whether to use them. If you don't like a hint, don't write a letter of complaint, just send in a better hint. You can be anonymous or you can use a pseudonym. Thus no one knows which hint is yours. Before going on holidays, contact local colleagues who are willing to 'look after' patients who think they may need urgent treatment while you are away. These patients will then know that you are concerned about their well-being, and took the time to ensure that they would be looked after. There is a hidden plus. Sometimes such patients seek a confirmation of the suitability of your recent or proposed treatment. The hidden ‡For information, contact Professor Michael Gillings, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
ADA News Bulletin December 2010
ADA News Bulletin March 2011