Surgery & Hospital

I’ve just come out of hospital where I spent 7 days after major abdominal surgery. The surgeon and the hospital were fantastic! We are very lucky here in Australia with our health system.

But it is worth noting that I was an insured patient in a private hospital – this means there was no waiting period, I got the surgeon of my choice (an exceptionally well qualified bloke who is at the top of his game), a private room with an ensuite, and excellent nursing and medication. This also meant that from diagnosis to treatment took approximately 4 weeks, and this included a 3 week period to make autologous blood donations (so they could use my own blood in transfusions).

The surgery I needed is referred to as ‘elective’ as the tumours that necessitated the surgery were known to be benign. Therefore (even though the tumours were doubling in size every few weeks) in the public health system I would have waited behind more urgent cases.

Now I am not so sure that the experience would have been if I had been an uninsured patient in a public hospital. I know that my surgery would have taken much longer to happen, there are quite long waiting lists and many times ‘elective’ surgery such as mine is cancelled.

It would be interesting to know what happens to people in a similar situation when they do not have private health insurance?

A Bloggers’ Code of Ethics?

Update 2016: This link is no longer available but you can find a handy how-to guide to setting up a blog here – thanks to Chris for the link.

An interesting idea from, reproduced in full as it is good food for thought. Not sure I agree with all of the points tho’ (especially about good taste – for some blogs bad taste is their raison d’etre). Thanks to Belinda Weaver of journoz for the link.

A Bloggers’ Code of Ethics
Some bloggers recently have been debating what, if any, ethics the Weblog community should follow. Since not all bloggers are journalists and the Weblog form is more casual, they argue they shouldn’t be expected to follow the same ethics codes journalists are. But responsible bloggers should recognize that they are publishing words publicly, and therefore have certain ethical obligations to their readers, the people they write about, and society in general. has created a model Bloggers’ Code of Ethics, by modifying the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics for the Weblog world. follows this code and urges other Weblogs to as well. Integrity is the cornerstone of credibility. Bloggers who adopt this code of principles and standards of practice not only practice ethical publishing, but convey to their readers that they can be trusted.
Be Honest and Fair Bloggers should be honest and fair in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

Bloggers should:

• Never plagiarize.
• Identify and link to sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources’ reliability.
• Make certain that Weblog entries, quotations, headlines, photos and all other content do not misrepresent. They should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.
• Never distort the content of photos without disclosing what has been changed. Image enhancement is only acceptable for for technical clarity. Label montages and photo illustrations.
• Never publish information they know is inaccurate — and if publishing questionable information, make it clear it’s in doubt.
• Distinguish between advocacy, commentary and factual information. Even advocacy writing and commentary should not misrepresent fact or context.
• Distinguish factual information and commentary from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. Minimize Harm Ethical bloggers treat sources and subjects as human beings deserving of respect.

Bloggers should:
• Show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by Weblog content. Use special sensitivity when dealing with children and inexperienced sources or subjects.
• Be sensitive when seeking or using interviews or photographs of those affected by tragedy or grief.
• Recognize that gathering and reporting information may cause harm or discomfort. Pursuit of information is not a license for arrogance.
• Recognize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than do public officials and others who seek power, influence or attention. Only an overriding public need can justify intrusion into anyone’s privacy.
• Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity. Be cautious about identifying juvenile suspects, victims of sex crimes and criminal suspects before the formal filing of charges. Be

Accountable Bloggers should:
• Admit mistakes and correct them promptly.
• Explain each Weblog’s mission and invite dialogue with the public over its content and the bloggers’ conduct.
• Disclose conflicts of interest, affiliations, activities and personal agendas.
• Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence content. When exceptions are made, disclose them fully to readers.
• Be wary of sources offering information for favors. When accepting such information, disclose the favors.
• Expose unethical practices of other bloggers.
• Abide by the same high standards to which they hold others. What do you think? Is there anything you think should be added, changed or removed?

April 15, 2003

World Day of Peace – the Pope’s Message (8 Dec 2004)

His Holiness Pope John Paul II and I have disagreed on many issues over many years (e.g. birth control, ordination of women, homosexuality, etc). However, there are many elements of his message for this World Day of Peace with which I do agree. But this message also raises some very deep issues for the Catholic Church to consider and deal with.

The message starts with “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). It then continues:
“… peace is the outcome of a long and demanding battle which is only won when evil
is defeated by good”

“Evil always has a name and a face: the name and face of those men and women who freely choose it.”

“… evil is a tragic rejection of the demands of love.”

“Fostering peace by overcoming evil with good requires careful reflection on the common good and on its social and political implications.”

“Since the good of peace is closely linked to the development of all peoples, the ethical requirements for the use of the earth’s goods must always be taken into account.”

The Pope then goes on to link much of the evil in evidence to the poverty experienced in many parts of the world. He also identifies the responsibility of those who have much to be generous to those who have little.

As Christians, those who have much are required to do more for our less well-off brothers and sisters on a personal level. However, this message also calls upon the Catholic Church, as an institution, to examine its own relationship to material possessions and to those who have been harmed by its officials (e.g. sex abuse victims).

This message has deep implications for the way the Catholic Church as a body deals with many issues in coming days. It is not realistic for an organization to take the moral high ground while continuing to amass wealth and oppress or victimize human beings who have trusted in it. If the correlation between words and deeds is not right then sooner or later the organization will either need to reform or falter.

During 2005 it will be interesting to see how both individuals and the Catholic Church rise to meet the Pope’s challenge to share in “the one bread and one cup … [coming] to realise that we are ‘God’s family’ and that together we can make our own effective contribution to building a world based on the values of justice, freedom and peace.”