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Archive for January, 2014

Lemony Chicken and Orzo Soup – Bon Appétit



1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium leek, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise 1/2-inch thick

1 celery stalk, sliced crosswise 1/2-inch thick

12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup orzo

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Lemon halves (for serving)


Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add leek and celery and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft, 5-8 minutes. Add chicken and broth; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 15-20 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. Let cool, then shred chicken into bite-size pieces.

Meanwhile, return broth to a boil. Add orzo and cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes.

Remove pot from heat. Stir in chicken and dill. Serve with lemon halves for squeezing over.

via Lemony Chicken and Orzo Soup – Bon Appétit.

Stampnote: A note-taking app that time stamps your work so you have a timeline and chronology of events


Stampnote – Timestamped Notes (Time Tracking, CSV Export) (4 stars with 7 Ratings) 
Universal App


Free Offer Ended. This app was free on January 22, 2014, but the offer has expired. Follow us on Twitter or Subscribe by emailor RSS feed to get daily App Gone Free notifications so you won’t miss it next time. The following impression was made during the promotional period.


Taking notes on your iOS device has been made incredibly easy with its powerful features and numerous options for apps that aid in the action. Today’s app is one such offering, and it has a unique feature that should intrigue you.

Stampnote is a note-taking app that time stamps your notes as you write them. This allows you to build a chronology and timeline of your note for anything from legal cases to pilot logbooks, or even just for keeping track of your work, billable hours, and a journal. It’s a clean layout that support Dynamic Type text size, and shows you entries grouped by day. You can tap and modify the date and time of the timestamp if you wish, and quickly add or remove years/months from the date. If you need to export, you can do that in a .csv file, and copy notes to your clipboard. It’s simple and very to the point, but also quite useful, so give Stampnote a look and see if it will help your workflow.

App Screenshots

via Stampnote: A note-taking app that time stamps your work so you have a timeline and chronology of events | App Saga.

Russell Brand: ‘Drugs legal within 20 years’


Comedian Russell Brand has told the BBC he predicts much of the world will have de-criminalised all drugs within the next two decades.

Brand, who is a former heroin addict, backs abstinence based recovery from addiction, rather than use of substitutes like Methodone.

But he told the BBC\’s Mark Easton he believed drug policy based on criminalising users was doomed and governments would adopt a new strategy to reflect that.

via BBC News – Russell Brand: ‘Drugs legal within 20 years’.

NHS waiting time data for elective surgery ‘unreliable’

The NAO has urged NHS England to apply greater scrutiny to waiting-time statistics

Patients in England cannot rely on information on waiting times for non-emergency operations, such as knee and hip replacements, a watchdog says.

The National Audit Office (NAO) found wrong and inconsistent recording after reviewing 650 cases in seven trusts.

The watchdog said it was unable to discern whether this was deliberate, but overall the practices concealed delays rather than over-recorded waits.

The government said the issue would be investigated.

The NAO said that the lack of reliability, whatever the causes, was harmful to patients because it hampered their ability to make informed choices about where to choose to have their treatment.

It also called into question whether the NHS was actually meeting its waiting-time targets.

Greater scrutiny

There are more than 19 million referrals for elective operations each year.

Patients are meant to be treated within 18 weeks of a referral and the NHS is currently meeting its targets on this – but only just and the report noted there was growing pressure on waiting times.

The waits are monitored and recorded by hospitals themselves.

They have the power to pause the clock if a patient is unavailable for appointments for personal or social reasons.

The patient can also be sent back to their GP – which means the clock starts all over again – if they fail to attend appointments.

But the watchdog said this leeway was being applied wrongly or inconsistently.

Of the 650 orthopaedic cases reviewed, the watchdog found that more than half were “not supported by documented evidence or were incorrectly recorded”.

  • In 281 cases, waiting times had been correctly recorded and were supported by documented evidence
  • In 202 cases, waiting times were not supported by enough evidence to say whether they had been correctly recorded
  • In a further 167 cases, there was “evidence of at least one error, leading to under and over-recording of waiting time”, with an overall under-recording of three weeks per patient

The NAO also highlighted other cases that were brought to its attention during the review.

These included North West London Hospitals Trust failing to record the waiting times of 2,700 of its inpatients, while Barnet and Chase Farm failed to properly monitor more than 2,000 patients. The problems have now been rectified.

There is also the well-publicised case of Colchester Hospital’s misrecording of cancer waiting times.

‘Deliberate manipulation’

The report urged NHS England to apply greater scrutiny to waiting-time statistics to establish what was really happening.

NAO head Amyas Morse said: “Performance information should be reliable.

“However, we have found significant errors and inconsistencies in how trusts record waiting times, masking a good deal of variation between trusts in actual waiting times.”

Katherine Murphy, of the Patients Association, said the findings were “concerning”, accusing the NHS of deliberately manipulating the figures.

“The care and welfare of patients must always come first, and managers’ efforts to try and ‘fudge’ their figures to meet targets will inevitably divert attention from providing high-quality care for the patients.”

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said: “What this report reveals is real, huge questions now over what we are being told by the government about the NHS and waiting times.

“I’ll be writing to Jeremy Hunt today to say there must be an urgent review into NHS waiting time statistics so that the public can have confidence in them.”

NHS England said action would be taken.

“We firmly believe it is essential to have accurate information provided in a timely way to ensure better care for patients,” said NHS England’s director of policy and strategy, Bill McCarthy.

A spokeswoman for Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “It’s crucial that reporting is always accurate, and we will work with the NHS to make sure hospital staff get the support they need to get this right.”

via BBC News – NHS waiting time data for elective surgery ‘unreliable’.

Head space: Finding a way to do 3D surgery on the brain

Surgeons carry out operations on the brain using 3D technology


When Avi Yaron was 26 years old he had a motorbike accident – a day he describes as the luckiest of his life.

As doctors scanned his head to check for damage, they found a tumour deep inside his brain which may otherwise have remained undetected.

And in 1993 the electronic engineering student from Israel was told the mass they had just discovered was nestling close to areas of the brain critical for movement and thought.

He now faced a choice – to have complex, invasive surgery that carried a risk of paralysis, or to find another way.

After a year of searching, Mr Yaron came across a surgeon in New York who removed part of the tumour successfully, and samples showed it was benign. The engineer was then advised to wait until technology had improved enough for the next operation to be less risky.

But for Mr Yaron this was not an option. The possibility remained it could put pressure on parts of the brain as it grew.

He said: “I was young and thinking of starting a family. I could not be passive about this sword hanging over my head.”

After five years of seeking out key surgeons and experts in technology, Mr Yaron had the rest of the tumour removed during a conventional operation – with good results.

Picture of operation using 3D glasses
The whole team wears 3D glasses and watches the surgery unfold on screens in the operating theatre

But this epic search for better surgical options continued to play on his mind. He kept thinking of and experimenting with ways to do brain surgery in a less invasive way.

And over the last few years he perfected a way to do surgery on the brain – in 3D.

Surgery through a scope

In the last 25 years minimally invasive surgery has become commonplace for the relatively easy-to-reach areas of the body, such as keyhole surgery on the abdomen and womb. And more recently surgeons have been able to use scopes (tube-like instruments) in brain surgery too.

Case study

Photo of Elizabeth Watson
  • 71-year-old Elizabeth Watson is one of the first patients in the UK to have had an operation using this system (2013)
  • She had a benign tumour growing on her pituitary – a key hormone-producing gland in the brain
  • She says: “The new equipment helped convince me to have the operation. It looks as though it has been really successful”

During these procedures a thin scope is inserted via a surgically-made or naturally-occurring port in the skin. A camera attached to the end of the scope relays images to a screen for the surgeon to see.

And surgical instruments are passed down the scopes to take samples of tissues or remove masses.

Early versions allowed surgeons to look at 2D images in standard definition, evolving over the last decade into more high definition systems.

Surgeons constantly translate these 2D images into 3D as they operate, much as we do when watching 2D television screens.

More recently 3D technology has become available for certain types of operation. But 3D brain surgery has been a much harder feat to achieve.

In neurosurgery the scopes need to be very small in diameter so they can pass through narrow ports such as the nose.

But most 3D scopes rely on two optical channels – each containing a single sensor. Each sensor collects two separate images that are then mixed together to give the appearance of three dimensions as a user looks at the screen – mirroring the way human eyes see.

It has so far proved difficult to make an instrument small enough that is able to produce the high-quality images neurosurgeons need.

‘Insect eye’

But Mr Yaron says his team have cracked this puzzle by thinking laterally. Rather than copying human anatomy, their scope mimics the compound eye of a bee.

The scope contains a miniature sensor with hundreds of thousands of micron-sized elements, each looking in slightly different directions and mapping the surgical field from many different points.

Using software this is translated into images for the left and right eye. Using this single sensor system, Mr Yaron’s company, Visionsense, have produced a scope small enough to operate on the brain.

Shahzada Ahmed from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham who carried out one of the first 3D endoscopic neurosurgical procedures in the UK says: “A bit like going to the movies, Avatar is a great movie in HD but it is an even better one in 3D.

“When I use the scope there is a better appreciation of depth and the pictures feel more real to me.”

3D brain surgery: possible uses

Illustration of endoscopic brain surgery
  • Removal of tumours and masses at the base of the skull and in the nose
  • Removal of pituitary tumours
  • Sinus surgery

It also allows him to see his instruments in 3D, which he feels gives him a better understanding of where they are in relation to key parts of anatomy.

Model brain

A number of studies are now being carried out to see if the 3D approach is better than commonly used 2D high definition systems.

Hani Marcus, a neurosurgeon at the Hamlyn Centre, Imperial College London recently compared the scope to conventional tools, using a model brain and surgeons who are novices to this endoscopic approach.

The study suggests the 3D aspect is beneficial – leading to a faster operation and subjective improvements in depth perception.

But Mr Marcus says it would be a mistake to automatically assume 3D is definitely better than 2D, and thinks further studies are needed.

There are a number of potential problems – surgeons who are already used to seeing 2D may find this approach hard to get used to.

And just as some people don’t enjoy watching 3D films and feel slightly nauseous, the same may hold for some surgeons.

But for Mr Yaron, whose scope is now being used in the US and across Europe, this invention is the bright side of an issue that has been playing on his mind for many years.

He says: “If I hadn’t had this accident I wouldn’t have been able to offer this solution. And I really know how it feels to need options.”

via BBC News – Head space: Finding a way to do 3D surgery on the brain.

Davos 2014: OECD highlights mental health in workplace

mental health

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, is using the World Economic Forum to highlight the issue of stress in the workplace.

The OECD says it is one of the key challenges – in the UK alone, nearly 500,000 people were off work for mental health reasons last year.

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria told BBC World that white-collar workers were more prone to stress but there did not to appear to be any further link to type of employment.

via BBC News – Davos 2014: OECD highlights mental health in workplace.





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