Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five 294

It’s Friday the 13th LITFLers… so of course this week’s Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five will test your knowledge on all types of fearfulness related to this inauspicious date. Check out Jo Deverrill’s freaky FFFF 084 for more Friday the 13th medical trivia.

Question 1

What is the medical term for fear of Friday the 13th?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

Friggatriskaidekaphobia

Frigga is the name of the Norse goddess for whom “Friday” is named and triskaidekaphobia means fear of the number thirteen.

An estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of Friday the 13th… whatever that means.


Question 2

Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed on Friday 13th of October 1972. What made this crash particularly notorious?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

The act of anthrophagy.

In order to survive the crash in the harsh environment of the Andes, the living crash victims resorted to eating the flesh of the deceased, starting with the pilot (!).

This amazing tale of survival was portrayed in the 1993 film Alive.

Anyone eating veal tonight? (see this Guardian article on what human flesh tastes like)


Question 3

Should emergency physicians fear going to work on Friday the 13th?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

Probably not… or at least not more than usual!

In a retrospective study Lo et al (2012) found that of 13 types of presentations, only penetrating trauma had increased presentations on Friday the 13th. In Alice Springs that would presumably mean that everyone in the town will have to get stabbed at least twice today… (see this ABC news article on the stabbing capital of the world)

There have been a few low quality studies suggesting that there are increased rates of traffic-related injuries on Friday the 13th (you can do your own Pubmed search for more), but insurance people would probably know best (given their strong motivation not to lose money). According to the CVS (Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics):”fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday than on other Fridays, because people are preventatively more careful or just stay home. Statistically speaking, driving is slightly safer on Friday the 13th, at least in the Netherlands; in the last two years, Dutch insurers received reports of an average 7,800 traffic accidents each Friday; but the average figure when the 13th fell on a Friday was just 7,500.”

  • Lo BM, Visintainer CM, Best HA, Beydoun HA. Answering the myth: use of emergency services on Friday the 13th. Am J Emerg Med. 2012 Jul;30(6):886-9. PMID: 21855260.
  • Scanlon TJ, Luben RN, Scanlon FL, Singleton N. Is Friday the 13th bad for your health? BMJ. 1993 Dec 18;307(6919):1584–1586. PMC1697765

Question 4

Which patients are prone to toxicity from the 13th element, and how does toxicity manifest?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

Patients prone to aluminium toxicity are dialysis patients treated with aluminium-contaminated dialysate or who are taking daily oral phosphate-binding agents. Patients receiving long-term TPN are also at risk.

Clinical presentation is usually non-specific.  Presentations may include proximal muscle weakness, bone pain, multiple nonhealing fractures, acute or subacute alteration in mental status, anemia and premature osteoporosis. Most patients have some degree of renal disease, and most are on hemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis.

Also, ask specifically about the supplemental use of oral aluminum hydroxide.

Treatment of aluminum toxicity includes elimination of aluminum from the diet, TPN, dialysate, medications, antiperspirants, and an attempt at the elimination and chelation of the element from the body’s stores (e.g. desferrioxamine).

Note that in some parts of the world, where people speak in a degenerate tongue, the second ‘i’ in aluminium tends to go missing.


Question 5

What is Genovese syndrome?

Reveal the funtabulous answer

Genovese syndrome is also known as The Bystander Effect.

It is the phenomenon whereby individuals do not offer any means of help in an emergency situation to the victim when other people are present. The greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help.

The term Genovese Syndrome comes from the case of Kitty Genovese, who was raped and murdered on Friday the 13th of March, 1964. This is case that stimulated research into this psychological phenomenon — although its significance as an example of the Bystander Effect was probably blown out proportion by the initial newspaper reports and has become ‘more parable than fact’.

The Bystander Effect should not be confused with SOCMOB: “Standing On Corner, Minding Own Business” – referencing an assault victim who is lying about their injuries to avoid discussing their own illicit acts at the time of the attack (from the UCEM Medical Acronym Dictionary).

  • Manning R, Levine M, Collins A. The Kitty Genovese murder and the social psychology of helping: The parable of the 38 witnesses”. American Psychologist. 2007; 62 (6): 555–562 PMID: 17874896

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Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five

Chris is an Intensivist and ECMO specialist at the Alfred ICU in Melbourne. He is also the Innovation Lead for the Australian Centre for Health Innovation at Alfred Health and Clinical Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University. He is a co-founder of the Australia and New Zealand Clinician Educator Network (ANZCEN) and is the Lead for the ANZCEN Clinician Educator Incubator programme. He is on the Board of Directors for the Intensive Care Foundation and is a First Part Examiner for the College of Intensive Care Medicine. He is an internationally recognised Clinician Educator with a passion for helping clinicians learn and for improving the clinical performance of individuals and collectives.

After finishing his medical degree at the University of Auckland, he continued post-graduate training in New Zealand as well as Australia’s Northern Territory, Perth and Melbourne. He has completed fellowship training in both intensive care medicine and emergency medicine, as well as post-graduate training in biochemistry, clinical toxicology, clinical epidemiology, and health professional education.

He is actively involved in in using translational simulation to improve patient care and the design of processes and systems at Alfred Health. He coordinates the Alfred ICU’s education and simulation programmes and runs the unit’s education website, INTENSIVE.  He created the ‘Critically Ill Airway’ course and teaches on numerous courses around the world. He is one of the founders of the FOAM movement (Free Open-Access Medical education) and is co-creator of litfl.com, the RAGE podcast, the Resuscitology course, and the SMACC conference.

His one great achievement is being the father of two amazing children.

On Twitter, he is @precordialthump.

| INTENSIVE | RAGE | Resuscitology | SMACC

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