When I contract an URTI (Upper Respiratory Tract Infection) like a cold or ‘flu all I want to do is retreat between the sheets and stay there till the thing has passed over! (Australian slang calls it a “wog” – a word that has nothing to do with another derogatory term which I wouldn’t use.)
Recently I’ve been reading about Tammy Rae Carland, a photographer who makes pictures of her recently vacated unmade bed-sheets and publishes them as artworks. She references; Félix Gonzáles-Torres, and of course the famous Tracey Emin’s “My Bed”; a very controversial work.
This morning I took photos of my unmade bed-sheets to include in today’s alphabetical picture. It contains two superimposed photos of crumpled white sheets, filtered to produce an opalescent colour like mother-of-pearl, interspersed with the X-ray of a child with an URTI.
There’s a medical fashion for taking lots of X-rays, and although there’s no evidence to justify taking an X-ray for an URTI , many doctors do. The increased medical-based radiation particularly to children, with rapidly dividing cells, makes them more susceptible to damage from X-rays. The largest radiation exposure to our modern population (other than natural background) is from medical sources. The population dose has doubled since the 1980s. On a global scale, human exposure from nuclear accidents like Chernobyl pale into insignificance.
Radiology Colleges are quick to point out that at least some of the increase is due to improved medical practice, which is true, and the benefit outweighs the risks. However some of the increase is a protective mechanism by doctors who practice defensive medicine – doing what lawyers demand. Because they are terrified of legal action for negligence they cover all bases. Further, in places where doctors have a financial investment in the institution in which they work, increased investigation brings a financial reward.
There is a Hippocratic precept “…to abstain from doing harm” later distilled into the Latin phrase Primum non nocere – “First do no harm” It is the basis for all medical ethics. One sometimes wonders how contemporary practice fits that ethical framework.