Trust in organisations

“Boeing in 2018/9 after the crashes of two 737 Max 8 aircraft was
following a popular playbook:

  • First, deny any problem; then
  • sow doubt about claims that your products or practices cause harm.
  • Once the problem becomes undeniable, endeavor to deflect responsibility for the problem,
  • when deflection is no longer tenable, try to minimize or localize the problem eg blame lower-level employees”

Gives other examples of George W. Bush and Abu Ghraib camp (abuse attributed to
“a few American troops”).

Purdue Pharma – in response to  public criticism and lawsuits for its irresponsible opioid marketing strategy – tried to be seen as part of the solution rather than the cause of the problem.

Trust is based on perceptions of that institution; in contrast, trustworthiness is a quality we attribute. Trying to boost trust without addressing underlying reasons for the loss of trustworthiness are unlikely to succeed, and usually perceived as inauthentic.

You can measure trust (by asking people about their perceptions and beliefs) but not trustworthiness, which is more nebulous. 

We tend to talk about trust as being a one dimensional thing but there are probably different kinds of trust – (gives example of a successful financial advisor who has had multiple divorces – you might trust them for financial but not relationship advice). Do they have knowledge, skills, resources (often quite specific) to perform what you have entrusted them to do?

Trustworthiness on the other hand is built around questions of reliability, honesty, and integrity. If you have reliability trust in someone, then you believe that person does (or will do) what they say they do (or
will do).

Along with integrity, there are the values of fidelity, care, and benevolence—relates to putting others’ interests ahead of one’s own. Which raises the question, “whose interests are being privileged?”

So called crisis management experts talk about “optics” – public perception – and respond to it by “public performativity” of trust building in terms of use of language and symbolic actions.

Marks suggests you compare one kind of crisis he calls “opsis,” (ancient Greek word for “appearance” as used by Aristotle for one of his six elements of tragedy, often translated as “spectacle”) with institutional sepsis. “Just as medical sepsis in the human body is a critical condition that endangers life, the loss of an
institution’s integrity and trustworthiness is another form of sepsis—ethical sepsis—that poses an existential threat to the institution. A problem even when the loss of integrity and trustworthiness has not yet come to the attention of the public.

Gives vaccine hesitancy as another example – numerous and varied causes, including misinformation, but note strong ethnic patterns at time of Black Lives Matter campaign and NHS being called “institutionally racist”. Suspicion of corporate interests in public health messages too.

[Jonathan H. Marks, Hastings Centre]

Keeping up to date

Years ago it was already pointed out that there is way too much published research for the average doctor to keep up to date. Even to just be aware of all the guidelines that summarize research into best practice means reading hundreds of pages for the conditions that you might only infrequently see.

Of course you don’t always know if the patient in front of you is typical of the condition being discussed – research often excludes complicated cases (or children, or pregnant women).

Even then – “most published research findings are false” [Ioannidis, Plos 2005].  Authors don’t check primary sources so misconceptions promulgate. Peer review is inefficient, inconsistent and insufficient. Post publication retractions are messy and difficult. See the problem of citations, below.

Systematic reviews are not kept up to date – in fact, they are usually already out of date when published… 

Authors of guidelines have a particular duty to ensure rigorous analysis. 

The average 10 min consultation will produce at least 1 unanswered question. 

[Richard Smith BMJ 2010]

The problem of citations

Citation error rate is estimated at 11-15% in biomedical literature. Propagates mistakes (even academic urban legends eg iron in spinach, due to a misplaced decimal point in a 1930s paper, which I have not verified) and undermines respect for literature review. 

Can be non-existent findings, incorrect interpretations of findings, or (20% of errors) chains of errors. Sometimes a hypothesis becomes a fact. 

1 surgical study was found to be misquoted by 40% of articles that cited it!

AI can help or make this worse. is AI powered search engine for academics. 

Best would be a declaration, that the authors have read the original papers and checked for accuracy and relevance.


Intermittent squeaky inspiratory noise from collapsing larynx during respiration. Usually from birth.

Often worse when lying on back, or with colds, or with reflux (vomits).  Worse if hypognathia eg Pierre-Robin sequence.

Clinical diagnosis usually. Settles in first few months of life.

Will need intervention if significantly increased work of breathing, cyanosis or apnoeas, or growth failure.

Juvenile xanthogranuloma

Well circumscribed, raised yellow/brown firm papule or nodule, typically solitary. Can be congenital but otherwise typically very young boys, head and neck area, asymptomatic.

Can affect the iris – presents with a red eye…

Can ulcerate, otherwise they tend to atrophy and disappear after 3-6 years.

Seen in 10% of Neurofibromatosis type 1.

Can rarely be multiple and internal (liver, bone marrow etc). Screening of asymptomatic cases probably only justified if multiple.

Differential – mastocytoma, Langerhans histiocytosis, molluscum.

Moral Distress

Moral distress – when you feel an internal moral compulsion to act a certain way but cannot do so because of external constraints. Your morals are usually guided by ethical principles, such as beneficence and autonomy, as well as by professional virtues. Moral injury is the result of repeated experiences in which individuals act or witness actions by others that are incongruous with their moral beliefs.

The negative emotional consequences of moral distress and moral injury are depression, decreased quality of life, and burnout.

Examples are where organisational or legal rules restrict clinical practice – eg access to abortion in the US being restricted after Dobbs vs Jackson Women’s health organisation decision.

One way of dealing with moral distress is to continue practicing the professional virtues of integritycompassionselfeffacementself-sacrifice, and humility while maintaining patients’ best interests.

Self-effacement and self-sacrifice are the virtues that say that your wishes/feelings may need to come second to some greater good. May be uncomfortable, but doesn’t mean you are doing wrong.

Humility is the idea that what you think/believe isn’t necessarily right, and certainly won’t be right for everyone. So acting against your own morals is sometimes necessary when you are taking into account other people’s views.

Discussing these issues and feelings with colleagues will always help. Seniors should promote and cultivate a positive culture where less experienced feel able to talk openly about their feelings and identify their moral distress, frustration, and outrage without fear. Professionalism means inviting others to listen and being willing to speak openly about the constraints of practice.

Ultimately, the ideal would be compassion but without overidentification with or indifference to our patients’ plight. This is of course harder for those who may have experienced discrimination (lower socioeconomic groups, women, and racial or ethnic groups historically underrepresented).

DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000005476 

Variceal bleeding

Due to portal hypertension from chronic liver disease.

Potential for large losses – may need local major haemorrhage protocol (FFP, platelets etc) – typically if blood loss >150mls/min, or else 20% blood volume loss in <1 hour (normal blood volume is 80ml/kg).

In adults, they try not to transfuse above 80 – thought that excessive transfusion may increase bleeding.

Terlipressin preferred to octreotide – from age 12. IV injection every 4 hours. No evidence for Tranexamic acid!

NG tube may cause more trauma…

In adults, Glasgow-Blatchford score used. Authors are Oliver and Mary Blatchford (couple?) – he was actually in Paisley at the time…

Social determinants of health

David Gordon of International Poverty Research centre at Bristol has parody of Chief Medical Officer’s top ten tips for health – Number 1 is “don’t be poor”.

1Don’t smoke. If you can, stop. If you can’t, cut down.Don’t be poor. If you are poor, try not to be poor for too long.
2Follow a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.Don’t live in a deprived area. If you do, move.
3Keep physically activeDon’t be disabled or have a disabled child.
4Manage stress by, for example, talking things through and making time to relax.Don’t work in a stressful low-paid manual job.
5If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.Don’t live in damp, low quality housing or be homeless.
6Cover up in the sun, and protect children from sunburn.Be able to afford to pay for social activities and annual holidays.
7Practise safer sex.Don’t be a lone parent.
8Take up cancer screening opportunities.Claim all benefits to which you are entitled.
9Be safe on the roads: follow the Highway Code.Be able to afford to own a car.
10Learn the First Aid ABC: airways, breathing and circulation.Use education as an opportunity to improve your socio-economic position.

Pyrexia of Unknown Origin

A technical term, not just a fever without obvious source! Essentially presence of confirmed fever for 8 days or more in a child in whom a careful thorough history and physical examination, and preliminary laboratory data fail to reveal a probable cause.

Long list of possible causes, long lists of possible tests – do thorough history and repeated examinations, then follow the clues!

In kids, infection is the commonest cause. But can be connective tissue disorder, or malignancy.

Beware factitious fever – admission sensible.

If possible, stop all drugs. Antipyretics may obscure the pattern of fever, and can occasionally be its cause (drug fever is one cause).

Unless the child is critically ill, try not to give antibiotics. If the diagnosis remains obscure, go back and take the history again, examine the child (fully) again, send the specimens again!

Special points in history/examination

  • Travel – malaria can present 6-12 months later. Typhoid.
  • Ethnicity – tuberculosis
  • Outdoor activities – rats/ticks as vectors of infectious diseases
  • Animal contact – cows/sheep (brucellosis), cats (cat scratch)
  • Mouth ulcers (IBD, Behcets, PFAPA)
  • Periodicity – see Periodic fever
  • Sinus tenderness, nasal congestion (sinusitis)
  • Bone/spine tenderness – discitis, vertebral osteomyelitis


  • 3 sets of blood cultures, different sites, different times (at least a few hours apart), off antibiotics – standard for endocarditis
  • ASOT
  • EBV, CMV
  • LDH, CK
  • ANA/RF
  • Urine/stool culture
  • Swab everything!
[Rosie Hague, Current peds 2001]

Stroke in children

Rare but happens.


Can be due to arterial or venous occlusion.  50:50 in kids cf adults (80% infarct). Haemorrhagic can be due to rupture into infarct.

Presents with focal signs, headache, seizures most commonly. Else dysphasia, vomiting!, confusion. Fever! Acute signs often lacking or fluctuant cf history!  FAST criteria only 78% sensitive. 

NIH stroke severity scale has paeds version. 

Risk factors


Cardiac (esp surgery, right to left shunt)

Sickle cell – esp anaemia, acute chest syndrome, HbS or HbS/Beta thal


Liver/kidney disease (secondary prothrombotic tendency)

VZV within 1yr, enteroviruses, HIV.

Vasculitis – Moya Moya (peaks at 5-9yr else adulthood), SLE, other

Cocaine, glue.

Marfans, homocysteinuria, Fabry’s disease, Neurofibromatosis

Cancer, radiotherapy



High flow O2, 10ml/kg saline 

Imaging within 1hr. 

BP – avoid high and low? Cf adults

Monitor for RICP

Treat with aspirin.


  • CTA/MRA at time of CT/MRI
  • Echo
  • (Transcranial doppler in sickle cell- via temporal bony window)
  • Hbopathy screen
  • Cholesterol
  • Lupus anticoagulant, Anti cardiolipin ab (ACLA), consider beta 2GP1
  • Homocysteine
  • Alpha galactosidase
  • Lipoprotein A – a kind of LDL but induces vascular inflammation, so a marker for CVS disease 
[RCPCH guideline May 2017]