You are probably aware that many great scientific discoveries have been made when doctors decide to experiment on themselves.
Self experimentation is sort of a tradition – take the famous discovery of Helicobacter pylori‘s role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease by Nobel prize-winning Barry Marshall (he and Robin Warren were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology in 2005). In order to prove H. pylori‘s pathogenic properties, Dr Marshall drank a “brew” made from a suspension of two culture plates of the organism. In this interview from the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology he states he had:
…read the history of John Hunter’s self-infection with gonorrhea and syphilis
It sounds utterly crazy to any rational person. But I think most doctors are probably a bit crazy and this is almost certainly true of those of us who work in the semi-organised chaos of the Emergency Department.
So, as part of my NHS Change Day pledge to offer all conscious patients local anaesthetic for arterial blood gas sampling (and to perform venous or capillary gases instead whenever possible), it occurred to me that the best way to convince other practitioners that ABGs were unpleasant enough to warrant local anaesthetic was to have one performed myself.
Without local anaesthetic.
By a (very brave) medical student, to guarantee an authentically painful experience.
After a night shift.
I’m still bruised.
Et voilà – it might not be Nobel prize or Oscar-worthy, but it convinced me; I hope it will convince you too. Needles and blood-letting from 6:50 onwards.