May 17, 2020

6 Medieval Medical Practices You Won't Believe Doctors Are Still Using Today

Medicine
Patient Care
Medicine
Patient Care
Admin
3 min
Leech therapy has been used since 800 B.C. to stimulate blood circulation.
Sometimes, its best to stick with what works, even in medicine. While there is always innovation in the health care industry, there are certain practice...

Sometimes, it’s best to stick with what works, even in medicine. While there is always innovation in the health care industry, there are certain practices that doctors hold on to simply because they work.

Here are the six oldest medical practices that doctors are still using today.

1. Leech Therapy

Yes, this still exists. The first use of leeches in medicine dates back to 800 B.C., according to the British Medical Journal, when they were used in bloodletting (a practice believed to cure feveres, headaches and serious illnesses).

Today, leeches are used to stimulate blood circulation after skin grafts and reconstructive surgery. The leech’s saliva contains enzymes and compounds that act as an anticoagulation agent. The most prominent of these anticoagulation agents is hirudin, which binds itself to thrombins, thus, effectively inhibiting coagulation of the blood.

Leeching might sound primitive but the FDA approved leeches as “medical devices” in 2004 to drain pooled blood after surgery. 

2. Maggot Therapy

Since ancient times, physicians have used maggots to help clean injuries and prevent infection. Because maggots feed solely on dead flesh, doctors do not need to worry about them feasting on healthy tissue.

One study published last year in the Archives of Dermatology showed that maggots placed on surgical incisions helped to clear more dead tissue from the sites than surgical debridement, the current standard of care in which doctors use a scalpel or scissors.

Placed in tea bag-like packages, physicians are able to directly apply maggots to wounds, allowing them to work their magic.

3. Transsphenoidal Surgery

Transsphenoidal surgery is a minimally-invasive procedure where surgeons access the brain through the nose to remove tumors.

According to Raj Sindwani, an otolaryngologist with Cleveland Clinic, the practice has been done for thousands of years, with the ancient Egyptians having discovered that the easiest access point to the brain was trhoug the nose.

4. Fecal Transplant

The incidence of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) has risen sharply over the last two decades. Human stool transplants have been found to consistently cure up to 90 percent of patients who have had multiple episodes of C. difficile, an infection which causes serious diarrhea and affects about 3 million people per year.

These days, fecal transplants are done either by colonoscopy or by a tube that runs through the nose into the stomach, but a new study published in JAMA shows that there may be a less unsavory—but equally effective—route by way of a pill.

5. Trepanation

We’ve seen this practice hundreds of times in horror films – the threat of having someone drill a hole into your head is scary enough. But doctors believe the practice actually serves some medical benefit.

Dating back to prehistoric times, trepanation was originally done to relieve bad spirits from a person. In today’s industry, holes are drilled into the skull to relieve pressure after serious trauma to the brain has occurred.

6. Cesarean Section

You might not even consider this an ancient practice since it is so commonplace today, but a Cesarean section (more commonly known as a C-section) is one of the oldest medical practices, dating back to 320 B.C.

The mortality rate for the procedure was once very high, until the 1880s when a technique was developed to minimize bleeding.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one-third of all babies were delivered via C-section in 2012. 

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Jun 13, 2021

How healthcare can safeguard itself against cyberthreats

#Cybersecurity
#cyberattacks
#digitaltransformation
#covid19
Jonathan Miles
6 min
Jonathan Miles, Head of Strategic Intelligence and Security Research at Mimecast, tells us how the healthcare sector can protect itself from attacks

One of the most fundamental lessons from the COVID crisis is that health should always be a priority.  In a similar fashion to the human body that frequently fights off viruses and foreign invaders that intend to cause it harm, the sector itself is now a prime target for another type of external threat: cyberattacks.

The figures speak for themselves: between December and January this year, hospitals in the UK were at 89% capacity, with 7,000 fewer available beds than there usually are. As the pandemic increased pressure on hospitals, clinics, and research facilities to create a treatment for patients globally, it has left the sector exposed to hackers who, like a virus, have been targeting it relentlessly and evolving their tactics. 

From patient records being held ransom, to fake emails claiming to originate from the UN WHO, the NHS, or vaccine centres, through to attacks on the cold supply chain to find out the secret formula of the COVID vaccine, the healthcare industry is facing constant cyberattacks and struggling to cope. This threat is unlikely to go away anytime soon – and as such, the industry needs to take a proactive, preventative stance to stay safe in a dynamic digital world. 

Going digital 

The responsive nature of healthcare – particularly of hospitals – means that efficiency is crucial to the industry’s standard operations. To support this, the sector has been embracing technological advancements that can improve the quality of work, enabling staff to meet pressing deadlines, and enhancing patient care. For example, the industry has been digitising records and improving its ways of working through digital means over the past few years. 

This shift is critical to offer high quality patient care; yet, it also means the sector has become more dependent on IT, which can come with a risk if cybersecurity processes employed are deemed as inadequate. 

Without the correct security measures in place, the desired efficiency gains realised, can be easily lost in a heartbeat. Simply put, an elementary glitch in the system can have a tremendous ripple effect on many areas, from accessing patient records and conducting scans, to maintaining physical security and protecting the intellectual property of experimental treatment development.

To prevent this, healthcare organisations need to ensure they’re considering cybersecurity as part of their overall digital transformation strategy – and setting the right foundations to create a culture where safety goes hand in hand with patient care. 

Strengthening defences

Before implementing cybersecurity process, healthcare organisations need to assess the potential risks they face. Depending on how much confidential data the trust has, where it is stored, who has access to it and via which means, the cybersecurity strategy and associated solutions will change. 

It’s fair to say that a medical device start-up where all employees have a corporate-sanctioned laptop and access data via a VPN will have radically different needs to a large hospital with hundreds of frontline workers connecting to the hospital’s Wi-Fi using their personal device. 

These requirements will pale by comparison to a global pharmaceutical giant with offices in multiple locations, a large R&D department researching new treatments for complex diseases and a fully integrated supply chain. Considering the existing setup and what the organisations is looking to achieve with its digital transformation strategy will therefore have an immediate impact on the cybersecurity strategy.

Despite this, there are fundamentals that any organisation should implement: 
Review and test your back-up policy to ensure it is thorough and sufficient – By checking that the organisation’s back-up is running smoothly, IT teams can limit any risks of disruption in the midst of an incident and of losing data permanently.

In our recent State of Email Security report, we found that six out of ten organisations have been victims of ransomware in 2020. As a result, afflicted organisations have lost an average of six days to downtime. One third of organisations even admitted that they failed to get their data back, despite paying the ransom. In the healthcare industry, this could mean losing valuable patient records or data related to new treatments – two areas the sector cannot afford to be cavalier about.

Conduct due diligence across the organisation’s supply chain – Healthcare organisations should review their ways of working with partners, providers and regulatory institutions they work with in order to prevent any weak link in their cybersecurity chain. Without this due diligence, organisations leave themselves exposed to the risks of third party-led incidents. 

Roll out mandatory cybersecurity awareness training - Healthcare organisations shouldn’t neglect the training and awareness of their entire staff – including frontline workers who may not access the corporate network on a regular basis. According to our State of Email Security report, only one fifth of organisations carry out ongoing cyber awareness training.

This suggests it is not widely considered as a fundamental part of most organisations cyber-resilience strategy, despite the fact many employees rely on their organisation’s corporate network to work. By providing systematic training, healthcare organisations can help workers at all levels better understand the current cyberthreats they face, how they could impact their organisation, the role they play in defending the networks, and develop consistent, good cybersecurity hygiene habits to limit the risks of incidents. 
Consider a degree of separation – Information and Operational Technology (IT and OT) networks should be separated.

Although mutually supported and reliance on each other, employees shouldn’t be accessing one via the other. This should be complemented by a considered tried and tested contingency and resiliency plan that allows crucial services to function unabated should there be a compromise. Similarly, admin terminals should not have internet access to afford a degree of hardening and protection for these critical accounts.

As the sector becomes a common target for fraudulent and malicious activity, putting cybersecurity at the core of the organisation’s operations is critical. It will help limit the risks of disruption due to cyberattacks, reduce time spent by the cybersecurity team to resolve easily avoidable errors, and ensure that institutions can deliver patient care, safe in the knowledge that their networks are safe.  

Fighting future threats

With technology continuing to change the face of healthcare, the surface area and vectors available for attacks by malicious actors is constantly increasing. With the introduction of apps, networked monitoring devices, and a need for communication, the attack vector is ever expanding, a trend that needs to be monitored and secured against.

To prevent any damage to patients, staff, or the organisation they are responsible for, healthcare leaders must put security front and centre of their digital transformation strategy. Only then can the sector harness the full benefits of technology. Doing this should include implementing cybersecurity awareness training to challenge misconceptions around security, encourage conversation, and to ensure employee knowledge of the security basics and threats faced. 

This ultimately allows healthcare organisations to do what they do best: provide the highest standard of patient care, safe in the knowledge that their operations, patients, and data are safe.

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