Bill Harvey: Smell the glove
Author: Bill Harvey
This week was the bicentenary of the birth of Florence Nightingale (May 12, 1820). It is worth noting how many of the ways she helped to improve conditions in hospitals still hold weight today. Maintaining as clean an environment as possible, maintaining clean air flow, insisting upon regular handwashing, encouraging healthy and balanced diet in patients, and fully funding essential supplies to meet predicted needs; things that, during austere times, are ignored to the peril of everyone (note to J Hunt).
Also impressive was Nightingale’s strict adherence to statistical analysis. Indeed, she was responsible for developing a form of pie chart, the polar area diagram, still used today. Numbers will always show if an intervention has any effect. Staying home and maintaining distance from others has a clear impact on the infection rate of SARS-CoV-2. Relaxation of such measures has, this week, resulted in an increase in infection rates, both in Germany and South Korea. It would be interesting to see the impact on UK figures of staying alert instead of staying at home, alertness being a well-established protection against virulent pathogens.
Quickly passing over the ambiguous please-all confusions of a pseudo-classicist comic, most authorities are moving towards a conditional, phased return to work. ABDO and the College have confirmed that initial advice is to continue to deliver essential/urgent/emergency eyecare and to fully utilise remote consultations. If overly worried about the impact on our faltering economy, The Lancet this week noted that immediate, universal testing of everyone in the UK, with isolation of positives and return to work of negatives, would be economically viable. New target for Hancock – 67 million tests.
Surprise fact of the week. While reading up on anosmia linked to Covid-19, I discovered that the established method for assessing olfactory function is a questionnaire called the sino-nasal outcome test; otherwise known as the SNOT-22. Excellent!