Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five 146

Just when you thought your brain could unwind on a Friday, you realise that it would rather be challenged with some good old fashioned medical trivia FFFF, introducing the Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five 146

Question 1

What was the Scottish physician James Lind (1716 – 1794) famous for (clue = physician in the Royal Navy)?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

He conducted the first ever clinical trial.

Lind thought scurvy was due to putrefaction of the body and could be cured by acids. 2 months into a trip at sea, 12 sailors became ill. He split them into 6 groups of 2, each group received an addition to their normal diet. Group 1 – quart of cider, Group 2 – 25 drops of sulphuric acid, Group 3 – 6 spoonfuls of vinegar, Group 4 – half a pint of seawater, Group 5 – 2 oranges and 1 lemon, Group 6 – a spicy paste plus a drink of barley water.

Group 5 recovered by six days and were fit for work. This trial was ignored and the results not fully implemented for another 47 years.

  • Lind J. A treatise of the scurvy, in three parts. Containing an inquiry into the nature, causes, and cure, of that disease. Together with a critical and chronological view of what has been published on the subject. 1753

Question 2

What has Dr Semmelweis and cadaverous poisoning got to do with modern medicine?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

Washing your hands

Dr Semmelweis a Hungarian physician, noted that doctors were infecting childbearing women during labour as they transferred “cadaverous material” to the labouring patients. Germ theory had not been discovered at the time but he noted reduced mortality if the doctors washed their hands with chlorinated lime between autopsy work and examining the patients.

Ironically Dr Semmelweis went mad as his theory was largely ignored (partly because he called anyone ignoring his advice a murderer) and he died in an asylum after developing sepsis from a wound – possibly the puerperal fever (Streptococcus pyogenes) he was trying to prevent.


Question 3

Who was the first female doctor of the modern medical era?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

James Barry

Born Margaret Ann Bulkley, chose to live a life as a male, partly in order to attend the University of Edinburgh Medical School. She worked as a military surgeon and was buried James Barry with full rank. The discovery of her true sex was only made on inspection of the body after death but announced to the public and colleagues after the funeral.

James Barry qualified in 1812 beating Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (quoted as the first British female physician) by 58 years and Elizabeth Blackwell (the first woman to obtain a medical degree in the USA) by 37 years.


Question 4

What is a scybalum?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

A hardened faecal mass.

Rarely can cause perforation


Question 5

How many mL of blood can a medicinal leech drink at a single meal?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

5-15 ml

Large adults consuming up to 10x their body weight in a single meal.


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Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five

Dr Neil Long BMBS FACEM FRCEM FRCPC. Emergency Physician at Burnaby Hospital in Vancouver. Loves the misery of alpine climbing and working in austere environments. Supporter of FOAMed, toxicology, tropical medicine, sim and ultrasound

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