F1 pitstop techniques to help in resuscitation of newborn babies

On your marks...

On your marks…


Now, here’s an interesting one…

Williams has been assisting the neonatal unit at the University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff by bringing Formula One pitstop know-how to help in the resuscitation of newborn babies.

Recognising the similarities between neonatal resuscitations and Formula One pitstops, the resuscitation team at UHW invited members of the Williams team to the hospital last year for an exploratory meeting to discuss how Formula One techniques and processes could be incorporated into their work. Wednesday 4 May saw members of the neonatal team from UHW visit the Williams factory in Oxfordshire to observe the team practice pitstops to see first-hand how they operate.

Both scenarios require a team of people to work seamlessly in a time critical and space-limited environment. In Formula One, a pit crew can change all four tyres on a car in around two seconds, with a team of nearly 20 people working in unison to successfully service a car. Williams has a dedicated human performance specialist who works with its pitcrew to fine tune the technique, processes, team work and health and fitness of team members.

Their experience previously treating new-borns in clinical practice has facilitated the transition of knowledge between the two industries and they have been the primary advisor to the hospital. Williams’s pitstops have been a real success story for the team in 2016, recording the fastest stops of any team at each of the first four races of the 2016 Formula One season.

Following these site visits, the neonatal team has identified and started implementing a number of changes to improve its resuscitation processes that are based on those used in Formula One racing. The resuscitation equipment trolley has now been audited and streamlined to ensure that equipment can be located as quickly as possible.

The neonatal team has mapped out a standardised floor space in delivery theatres to clearly show the area for the neonatal resuscitation team to work in; copying the customised floor map the Williams team takes to races to map out the specific pit box requirements at each track.

The pitstop resuscitation team at UHW are also in the early stages of implementing Formula One communications and analysis techniques, including the use of a “radio-check” prior to a resuscitation, greater use of hand signals rather than verbal communication, and video analysis to analyse performance following a resuscitation with debrief meetings as standard.

Speaking about the project Dr Rachel Hayward, specialist registrar in Neonates at the University Hospital of Wales said: “Resuscitation of a compromised neonate at delivery is time critical, requiring the provision of efficient and effective resuscitation to ensure an optimal outcome.”

Lovely the language medics use…

“Delays in providing effective resuscitative care can have marked consequences on survival or the development of long term complications. There is a growing amount of evidence to support a systematic approach to resuscitative care which is time-critical and dependent upon optimal team dynamics and clear communication.

“Analogous with the requirements of an effective pitstop we have worked with the Williams team to implement Formula One techniques and processes to augment neonatal resuscitative care”.

Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal of Williams, added: “When we were approached by the Neonatal team at the University Hospital of Wales last year to offer some advice we were delighted to assist. Their work is vitally important and the pressure they work under is difficult to comprehend; it’s a matter of life and death every day of the week.

“If some of the advice we have passed on helps to save a young life then this would have been an extremely worthy endeavour. We are increasingly finding that Formula One know-how and technology can have benefit to other industries and this is a great example.”

I think this is great. We should have many more cross-industry knowledge transfers like this.

Spotting prostate cancer sooner

South west London’s St Anthony’s Hospital has introduced a new effective scan fusion procedure to help identify prostate cancer earlier than conventional methods.

A man’s risk of having prostate cancer is based on their PSA (protein prostate specific antigen) which is produced by the prostate gland.

This means that a scan and a biopsy need to be taken. The new technique called the BiopSee combines two diagnostic tools – an ultrasound scan with an MRI scan. This targets suspected cancerous areas of the prostate.

Stephen Gordon, St Anthony's Hospital

Stephen Gordon, St Anthony’s Hospital


In addition the samples can be taken from any part of the prostate and by avoiding the rectum, the risk of infection is reduced.

Stephen Gordon, Consultant Urological Surgeon, St Anthony’s Hospital, who introduced the purpose built fusion device to the hospital, says:

“The benefit of this approach is that not only is the prostate cancer detection rate likely to be better but that if cancer is found by targeting, then it is more likely to be of a significant nature which is best detected at an early stage. The procedure is performed as a day case under general anaesthetic.”

A standard biopsy is performed with an ultrasound probe in the back passage with the biopsy needle passing through the rectum into the prostate. On average 12 samples are taken randomly from different areas, which confirms prostate cancer about 35% of the time.

Adds Gordon:

“The problem with this is the random nature of the sampling and the fact that biopsies are taken via the back passage. This means the front or lower parts of the prostate are missed and despite being given antibiotics, men still suffer from infections.”

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK with 40,000+ men diagnosed with the disease and over a quarter of a million men living with the condition. Prostate cancer primarily affects older men (65 to 79) although 25% of cases occur in younger men.

Enjoy life more

We’re a nation of resolution makers – they tell me 80 per cent of us say we have vowed to change the way we conduct our professional and personal lives at a new year but more than half of us fail to keep our pledges.

And it gets terribly repetitive: we keep making the same promises and breaking them every year. However well-intentioned you may be, your New Year resolutions have little chance of being fulfilled unless you set clear goals and focus on the rewards.

Think through exactly what you will do, where you will do it, and at what time. Vague plans fail.

For example, instead of saying that you will go running two days a week, tell yourself that you will run on Tuesday and Thursdays at 6pm.

The most popular resolution, apparently, falls into the vague category. It is to enjoy life more.

Don’t forget the vitamin D

Our vitamin D levels will plummet this winter.

Vitamin D is a pro-hormone which our bodies naturally produce by synthesising ultraviolet light from the sun. It is needed for the body to make proper use of calcium for stronger bones and teeth and maintain a healthy immune system.

Ninety per cent of our essential vitamin D must come from our skin’s unprotected exposure to the sun, with only 10 per cent gained through diet. But the UK is currently in its vitamin D winter where winter sunshine is too weak to stimulate production of vitamin D.

When the sun is below 45 degrees in the sky, nearly all of the UVB it produces is absorbed by the atmosphere, rather than our bodies. So in the UK, the angle of our winter sun is simply not strong enough to ensure sufficient vitamin D production at the levels we need.

And even when the strength and angle of the sun is good enough for optimum vitamin D generation in our bodies, our nation’s infamous cloudy weather often blocks it out completely, hindering the absorption of those all important UVB rays. Therefore only a very few people are likely to generate enough vitamin D through natural sunlight exposure alone.

Diseases related to vitamin D deficiency, including multiple sclerosis, Type 2 diabetes, bone diseases such as osteoporosis and a growing number of internal cancers are believed to cost the UK taxpayer £29 billion annually – more than a quarter of the NHS budget.

More commonly, general symptoms associated with vitamin D deficiency include lack of energy and fatigue, headaches, poor immune system, muscle aches and depression.

So get out there and get yourself some supplementation advice. Vitamin D home test kits retail at £25.

Forget the bankers, cancer and AIDs need the cash

An expert from the Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Group – which comprises the UK’s major pancreatic cancer charities – is calling for a more realistic approach to pancreatic cancer research funding.

It appears that the current level of investment has led to no improvement in survival rates over the last 40 years.

Consultant Surgeon Hemant Kocher, based at Barts and The London, says that both clinicians and researchers are frustrated by the lack of investment into service provision and research for this deadly cancer – referred to as the ‘silent killer’, the tenth most common type and the fifth most common cause of cancer death:

“It is shocking to think that average life expectancy once pancreatic cancer is diagnosed is just six months. In the next year seven thousand people in the UK will die from this cancer and yet only one per cent of all cancer funding goes towards pancreatic cancer research.”

According to Mr Kocher, where research is able to be carried out there are some encouraging signs for the future. Researchers are discovering that as far as surgery for pancreatic cancer goes, less is more. Says Mr Kocher:

“Allowing patients to undergo surgery and get additional chemotherapy immediately afterwards helps to prolong survival. Information collected from recent studies suggests that doing the standard surgical excision for pancreatic cancer is perhaps as good as the extensive operations, with fewer complications after surgery.

“We can only learn so much with the limited resources we have, however. If we want to make a swift and significant impact then more investment is vital. It is crucial that we capitalise on the progress made to date, otherwise we run the risk of another 40 years with very little change.”

An aggressive spending programme is also the only way to end global HIV/AIDS. This is in contrast to previous research which advises that gradual spending over 15 to 20 years is needed to eradicate the epidemic.

Canadian researchers found that an aggressive programme over five years is the only way to end the epidemic, given our current resources.

Their study – part of a supplement on The OptAIDS project: towards global halting of HIV/AIDS – was based on a mathematical model developed by mathematicians and biologists.

Professor Robert J. Smith and his team from the University of Ottawa – working with researchers from York University and the University of Manitoba – developed the mathematical model to examine how best to eliminate HIV/AIDS worldwide, given the large amounts of money that have been committed to fighting the disease.

They found that the $60 billion currently committed to fighting HIV/AIDS might suffice to end the epidemic globally. However, spending this money over the proposed 15 to 20 years will almost certainly fail, given the ability of HIV/AIDS to spread through travel and migration.

Recent scientific advances combined with education campaigns and condoms have been very effective in reducing the incidence of the disease in many countries and regions. However, the incidence of infection is still on the rise in many countries.

Travel and immigration will also make it impossible to contain the disease to these regions. As a result, the researchers predict that the spread of the disease will continue to outpace treatment. Says Professor Smith:

“The OptAIDS project grew out of a frustration with existing attempts to tackle the disease. HIV/AIDS is mostly addressed at a community or national level, when it needs to be tackled globally.”

The team is now working to develop a model for how best to spend existing resources in the developing world to contain the disease before it spreads beyond our reach.

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