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Editor’s blog Saturday 24 July 2010: Two contrasting examples of clinical attitude to patients

This BBC News story about the Society and College of Radiographers' recommendation that parents-to-be should not film phonograph scans of their unborn children struck me as stunningly ill-judged.

The defensive tone of the attitude to sonographers who miss defects was a classic 'tell' of defensive medicine. Scanning technology now produced excellent images. Hospitals hit us up for stills at a premium, and we are glad to buy them.

So if SCOR propose that the concentration a sonographer requires is so absolute, logically fathers or friends, mothers etc. shouldn't be present. Because when you seer that image, you are going to react.

Indeed, logically extended, perhaps mothers-to-be should be blindfolded and gagged during the scan - maybe even strapped down so they don't make any distracting movements. "Nothing abouty us without us", as one suspects Andrew Lansley might say.

No. That is not a particularly smart idea. Nor is the idea to stop filming, since most people's film camera is their mobile phone. We are not talking about a clapperboard, Steadicam, Klieg lighting rig, boom mics and dollies. The actual potential for distraction is generally going to be slight.

If anything, the presence of an independent recording ought to rather focus the mind.

A refreshing contrast
By way of a wonderfully refreshing contrast, I'm going to break a pretty a strong rule not to write about my life or healthcare experiences, to praise to the skies a letter we received from a staff grade opthalmologist at a local hospital where my daughter's sight was being assessed.

The letter states, "This gorgeous two year old girl was very well behaved. I refracted her and have prescribed some longsighted glasses for her to wear full time - i.e. before breakfast until after the bedtime cuddle".

The empathy and humanity in that phrasing didn't cost any more than a 'straight' clinical letter would have done, but it made our day.

We'll be keeping that letter, and hoping that its author goes far - clearly a person with their eyes clearly focused on how healthcare should be.