Babies, bright lights, blood-thinners and more: Cochrane evidence round-up

It’s probably best to draw a veil over many of the things done in English boarding schools by past generations and some in the name of health. The boys of Dickens’ fictional Dotheboys Hall were given brimstone and treacle from “a common wooden spoon, which might have been originally manufactured for some gigantic top, and which widened every young gentleman’s mouth considerably: they being obliged, under heavy corporal penalties, to take in the whole of the bowl at a gasp.” Continue reading


Helping, not harming: with a little help from the Cochrane Library

The Ancient Greeks knew a thing or two, not least about medicine. We are hearing a lot about shared decision-making in these days of ‘no decision about me without me’, but the notion that the patient must combat the disease along with the physician appears in Hippocratic writings from the early fourth century BC and so does the requirement that the doctor’s job is to do good or to do no harm.

intensive care

HES: risks may outweigh benefits

Fast forward a couple of millennia and we come to the Cochrane Library! Looking through the newest evidence there put me in mind of these basic principles of medicine, particularly how vital it is to know about the possible harms resulting from treatments, and that researchers must ask useful questions and measure the right things if that research is going to help patients. Continue reading