Mastering Intensive Care 049 with Hugh Montgomery

Climate change is a conversation we need to be having in Intensive Care circles.

Right now.

If the environmental catastrophe that is unfolding around us continues unabated there may no longer even be Intensive Care Units.

The rising global temperatures, the melting ice, the extreme weather events, and their impact on agricultural crops and human habitation may well lead to such a fall in the economy that our healthcare system may not have the financial resources it does now.

And given ICUs are the most expensive part of our hospitals, have a guess what might disappear first.

So who is there better to listen to about the climate crisis than British intensivist, Professor Hugh Montgomery, a deeply passionate and highly intelligent man, who was a founding member of the UK Climate and Health Council, and who has helped raise awareness about climate change for over 2 decades.

In this episode Hugh outlines some simple things you can do today to help fight climate change.

Hugh is a Professor and the Director of the Institute for Human Health and Performance at University College London. He obtained a 1st class degree in cardiorespiratory physiology and neuropharmacology before graduating from the Middlesex Hospital Medical School in 1987. He has since obtained specialist accreditation in Cardiology, General Internal Medicine and Intensive Care medicine, and practices as a Consultant Intensivist in North London in the UK. Hugh obtained his MD(Res) in 1997, is known for his pioneering genetic research, and has published over 450 peer reviewed papers, three in Nature. Hugh is also an author of children’s books, and most recently of the medical thriller ‘Control’.

Hugh has a such diverse array of interests and expertise that it’s hard to understand how he fits it all in. He has presented on television shows, climbed tall Himalayan mountains, run ultra-marathons, jumped naked from a plane at 14,000 feet, holds the world record for underwater piano playing, and also consults as a medical expert on Artificial Intelligence. Despite all of this, he continues to work as a clinical intensivist, publishes in the medical literature about important critical care topics, and is working to raise patient awareness about their end of life wishes.

To me this is one of the most important Mastering Intensive Care episodes so far, as in a wide-ranging conversation Hugh talks about:

  • How he became interested in physiology and then intensive care
  • The intensivists that shaped his career
  • Climate change and why we all need to care
  • What actions we can take today as Intensive Care professionals to help the environment
  • His own views on diet, renewable energy and international flights
  • Some perspectives on the ICU ward round
  • The importance of relationships and building connection with patients in clinical medicine
  • How his father’s experience in hospital informed Hugh
  • How “wisdom of the crowd” assists in making diagnoses
  • Dealing with uncertainty at the bedside
  • The importance of speaking to patients about end of life before they are admitted to the ICU
  • How he speaks to families of the dying
  • An end of life project he and his colleagues are working on
  • Why he researches what he does
  • Some tips for public speaking
  • How the emergence of artificial intelligence might play out in healthcare
  • Why we need to be engaged with Big Tech
  • His own attitudes and practice of self-care and self development
  • His non-medical writing, including his new medical thriller book “Control”

I can not recommend more highly that you settle in and listen to this amazing man, Professor Hugh Montgomery.

People, organisations and resources mentioned in the episode:

Further reading and listening

Dr Andrew Davies MBBS FRACP FCIC. Intensivist/researcher at Frankston Hospital, Melbourne. Aiming to bring my best self to work & life. | Mastering Intensive Care | New Normal project |

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