The #coronavirus crisis (9); the environmental impact, transcript + stats

Weds 27th May, 9pm UK/Ire (BST), 4pm ET.

Co-host Dr Kit Byatt @Laconic_Doc




The ramifications of the pandemic stretch far beyond mere healthcare. We’ll be discussing the economic impacts next week, but this week we’re concentrating on the environmental impact.

Some of the consequences of the pandemic have been positive; more  working form home = fewer car journeys = less air pollution. But some are negative e.g discarded plastic gloves everywhere.

  1. Have there been any significant developments in the last 2 weeks?

2. What impact has the Covid-19 crisis had on the environment, so far?

3. Have you noticed any impact locally/personally?

4. Are solving the Covid-19 crisis & the climate crisis mutually exclusive?

5. Will any environmentally relevant lifestyle changes you’ve made continue after lockdown ends?

The #coronavirus crisis (8); post-CV illness, transcript + stats

Weds 13 May, 9 pm UK/Ire (BST), 4pm ET.

Co-host Dr Kit Byatt @Laconic_Doc



If the pandemic reminds us of anything, it’s that science is not an exact science. Uncertainty still abounds e.g the exact number of deaths, the exact number of people infected.

But what about those who have had the infection, but have got better? Are there any longer-term health issues as a consequence of infection? Sleep disorders, chronic fatigue, PTSD, memory problems, are recognised sequelae of time spent in intensive care units. Will there be a tsunami of these cases, all requiring rehab?

1) What are the important developments since last week?

2) What have you experienced or seen as after effects of Covid-19 infection?

3) Do patients with more severe symptoms in the acute illness have more problems during recovery?

4) What advice have you for people getting over Covid-19?

5) Which aspects of recovery do you think should be researched?

The #coronavirus crisis (7); caring for healthcare practitioners + carers. Transcript and stats

Weds 6th May, 9pm UK/Ire (BST), 4pm ET

Co-host Dr Kit Byatt @Laconic_Doc





Providing healthcare and social care has always been difficult, and has been becoming ever more difficult due to factors like an ageing population, advancing medical science, and more limited resources.

But the pandemic has put our healthcare practitioners (HCPs) and carers under even more pressure

  • the fear of catching the coronavirus
  • the lack of adequate PPE
  • the physical strain of wearing PPE
  • the distancing from colleagues and patients

This recent BMJ blog, by Dr Clare Gerada, describes the toll which ‘covid fatigue’ is taking on healthcare workers

  1.  What are the important developments since last week?
  2.  What pressures are HCPs & social carers having to deal with? What is most difficult for you?
  3.  What pressures are informal + family carers having to deal with? What is most difficult for you?
  4.  What solutions are available now?
  5.  What solutions will/should become available as this continues?

The #Coronavirus crisis (6); misinformation. Transcript + stats

Weds 19th April, 9pm UK/Ire (BST), 4pm ET

Co-host Dr Kit Byatt @Laconic_Doc



We are only in the early stage of the pandemic, and knowledge is only slowly and painfully being curated; that’s real science for you. Much of what we read at the moment is speculation, some of it educated, some of it dangerous and embarrassing (chloroquine, detergent etc etc).

As always, when information is uncertain, misinformation gleefully fills in the gaps, so reliable and trusted sources are more valuable than ever.


  1. What are the important developments since last week?

2. What examples of misinformation have you encountered?

3. What are your reliable sources? And unreliable sources?

4. What are your top tips for checking information quality?

5. How do you deal with obvious misinformation? Ignore or confront?

The #Coronavirus crisis (5); non-coronavirus illness, transcript + stats

Weds 9pm UK/Ire (BST), 4pm ET

Co-host Dr Kit Byatt @Laconic_Doc



The coronavirus pandemic doesn’t stop us from getting sick due to something else, but there has been a significant drop in numbers seeking medical care, whether from GPs or A&E depts. Some of this may be due to more home treatment of minor illness; we may be becoming more self-reliant. But some may also be due to patients with significant illness being unwilling to seek help, perhaps due to fear of contracting the coronavirus, or of being a burden on the NHS.

Normal (medical) life has to go on; cervical screening, childhood vaccinations, palliative care and care of chronic disease, out-patient visits, surgery etc. How is this being managed?

And there may some positive health benefits; more tranquillity and less stress, less air pollution, which may lead to less illness.


  1. What are the important developments since last week?
  2. Has medical care for non-coronavirus illness been affected? What is your experience, as patient or healthcare provider?
  3. Are people seeking medical care less, becoming more self-reliant? Are some new medical presentations (heart attack, stroke, etc) actually occurring less frequently, for some reason?
  4. How is the crisis affecting palliative care?
  5. How can we make this easier for patients?

Coronavirus (4); older people. Transcript + Stats

Weds 15th April, 9pm UK/Ire, 4pm ET.

Co-hosts @Laconic_Doc + @DamianFog




Our older people are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus infection. Some sections of society are being dismissive; as a typically charming Fox News contributor said, ‘They’re on their last legs anyway.’

But how do we best care for them, and for their carers? How do we protect them from contracting infection, and how should we treat them if they do become ill? Just as before the pandemic, there are fine lines between neglect, appropriate management, and over-heroic treatment.

Vitamin D deficiency; implications for coronavirus infection

We should be wearing masks

  1. What are the important developments since last week?
  2. Are older people being discriminated against in the coronavirus crisis?
  3.  Are decisions about management for coronavirus infection in older people based on facts or assumptions?
  4. How are older people and their family carers doing?
  5. Are staff in the residential care sector as well supported as health care staff?



Click to access Report_Covid19VitaminD.pdf

Coronavirus (3); the loneliness. Transcript and stats

Weds, Apr 8, 9pm UK/Ire, 4pm ET

Co-hosts Dr Kit Byatt @Laconic_doc + Dr Damian Fogarty @damianfog



Self-isolation, social distancing; new terms which have entered our vocabulary. We are social animals, and in times of crisis, seek out each other for support, but the nature of the pandemic has made this impossible. Suddenly we must be prepared to be sick alone, to die alone, and to mourn alone.

  1. What are the important developments since last week?
  2. What ways have you found to meet the challenge of loneliness? What support mechanisms have you found?
  3. How can we reduce the burden of separation for our patients and their relatives?
  4. Are you bored ever? What are your top 2-3 things to help that/fill the time?
  5. The normal rituals of death have been suspended; how can we make this easier for families?


Coronavirus (2) Transcript + stats

Weds 1st April, 9pm UK/Ire, 4pm ET

Co-hosts Dr Damian Fogarty @damianfog + Dr Kit Byatt @Laconic_doc





The coronavirus crisis continues; only a few weeks into the lockdowns in all our different countries and we are trying to adjust to the new dynamic, aware that it will continue for months at least.

This week’s questions

1 How have things changed at the front line over the past 2 weeks?

2. What are the most reliable sources of information on the pandemic?

3. When (and how), in our various different countries, should you seek medical attention?

4. Are front-line workers more susceptible to severe infection? if so, why?

5. Why do some people get so seriously ill when most don’t?

Coronavirus; transcript + stats

Weds March 25th, 9 pm BST, 5pm ET.

Co-host Dr Kit Byatt @Laconic_Doc



Two months ago this would have seemed unthinkable; reports of an infectious disease in China were like the rumble of distant thunder at a summer picnic. But now the coronavirus is here, a disease for which we have

  • no immunity
  • no cure
  • no vaccine

and our society has been fundamentally reshaped.

So #IrishMed is taking the pike down from the thatch and once again donning the mighty boots, to provide reliable information, to confront misinformation, and to share international perspectives and experiences.

Neither Kit nor I are specialists (perhaps ‘informed generalists’), but we expect to have specialist expert opinions pitching in. Of course, all perspectives are valuable; patients, carers, advocates, and the general public. This is a struggle which demands that we all engage with.

It’s worth reading this review of current knowledge by the incomparable Richard Lehman.

Richard Lehman’s covid-19 reviews—23 March 2020


We’ll be having a series of weekly tweetchats, and this week, we’ll be discussing 5 questions;

  1. How can you protect yourself and others from the coronavirus?
  2. When and how should you seek medical attention?
  3. Are there any treatments/vaccines becoming available?
  4. Does recovery from coronavirus confer immunity?
  5. What are the major problems in the current strategies?

We’d also like suggestions for future tweetchats, as this is a most complex and evolving situation.


Goodbye from #IrishMed

Mo chairde, #IrishMed was launched as a weekly tweetchat 5 years ago, with the modest aim of exploiting the potential of social media to help break down the artificial barriers that exist between healthcare professional and patients. Over that time it grew into a global network, with regular participants from North America, Africa + Asia, evidence that health issues are universal.

#IrishMed was non-hierarchical; all perspectives were valuable, whether specialist, generalist, patient, advocate, carer or general public. Doctors + healthcare professionals learnt from patients about their issues + frustrations, and equally non-medics learnt about the limitations + realities of medical care.

Supporting networks have come and gone; video platforms like Blab and FireTalk are defunct, and Storify provided easily readable transcripts, before they too joined the Choir Invisible (#IrishMed may be a bit of a jinx).

Fortunately and are still thriving, and the stats they provided after every chat were always instructive (and free!!).

However the time has come for #IrishMed to hang up the mighty boots, return the pike to the thatch, and ride off into the sunset. Although I’m retired from practice, for some inexplicable reason I’m busier than I’ve ever been, and I can’t give it the time commitment anymore.

I’m eternally grateful to our specialist co-hosts, who were always willing to give their time and expertise and passion. And most of all I’m grateful to our participants from all over the world for being so generous with their knowledge, wisdom and experience; many of them have become my good friends.

Social media can be a perilous jade, but medical twitter, and #IrishMed is a different beast; always respectful, always ready to change opinions if the evidence demands it.

#IrishMed has been a labour of love, and if during the journey we have helped someone, somewhere, it has all been worth it.

Go dté tú slán, everyone.