Recognising the Sexual Needs of Dementia Patients

ABC News has a story on Elaine White, a registered nurse who is campaigning for the sexual needs of dementia patients. Ms White argues that where a dementia patient is missing intimacy, certain therapeutic steps should be taken such as: remedial massage, the provision of pornographic material or even the employment of a sex worker to act as a sexual surrogate.  Whilst one can certainly admire Ms White’s recognition of the human condition, the suggestions certainly raise questions about the scope of heath care provision (particularly end-of-life care) as well issues of borderline consent as is the case whenever the mentally diminished engage in sexual activity.

‘What’s Left Behind’ Ownership of Bodily Material

Apologise for the slow start to this blog, busy busy busy.

New Scientist have a wonderful Secrets of the Body  theme of interesting facts about human bodies. One article of particular interest is
Who owns the bits you leave behind?  by Andy Coughlan (registration required) which looks at the legal rights to our bodily material once they leave our ‘person’. Below is the introduction:

YOU might think that the physical bounds of your body are a neat cut-off point where “you” end and the rest of the world begins. Yet everywhere you go you leave behind
a calling card. Whether it is hair, skin cells, sweat or waste material such as urine and faeces, you are constantly shedding material that started off as part of you.

How much of ourselves do we unknowingly dump each day on our clothes on the way to work, in the office, on door handles, cellphones and in the bathroom? And once it has left our body, does it still belong to us?


Exercising Restraint on ‘Mental Illnesses’

Peter Kinderman, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool, laments that the latest edition of the  American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), are leading to the labelling of a cluster of common features of the human condition as ‘mental illnesses’. Kinderman writes in BBC Health:

The new diagnosis of “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder” will turn childhood temper tantrums into symptoms of a mental illness

Normal grief will become “major depressive disorder”, meaning people will turn to diagnosis and prescription as a response to bereavement

The criteria for “generalised anxiety disorder” will be significantly relaxed, making the worries of everyday life into targets for medical treatment

Lower diagnostic thresholds will see more diagnoses of “adult attention deficit disorder”, which could lead to widespread prescription of stimulant drugs

A wide range of unfortunate human behaviours, the subject of many new year’s resolutions, will become mental illnesses – excessive eating will become “binge eating disorder”, and the category of “behavioural addictions” will widen significantly to include such “disorders” as “internet addiction” and “sex addiction”

Patient Dies After Nurse Refuses to Perform CPR – Following Policy

There has been much controversy surrounding a Californian retirement facility after a nurse refused to perform CPR, even when requested by an emergency dispatcher,  because of the facilities internal policy. The nurse had called the emergency hotline after an 87-year-old patient collapsed, but refused to perform the life saving procedure due to an internal policy. “It’s a human being,” the dispatcher reportedly pleaded, before requesting if anyone else was willing to perform emergency procedures, “Um, not at this time,’ was the nurse’s response. Surprisingly, the director of the facility has backed his staff member stating that:

“In the event of a health emergency at this independent living community our practice is to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives,”

This case raises questions as to whether it is appropriate for a health care facility to have policies which would appear to undermine the health and safety of their patients – even if they are voluntarily entered into, which appears to be the case here. Further, it provokes questions about the kind of work stressors  / psychological factors at play which would lead a nurse to restrain a compulsion to save a life.

WHO Releases Report on Hormone Disruptors

Many synthetic chemicals, including those used in households could have negative health effects according to a recent report by The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the  United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The report, accessible  here,  charts the associations between endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs)—found in many household and industrial products—and specific diseases and disorders.