The Adelaide Show Podcast putting South Australian passion on centre stage

307 – Clinpath: Just what the doctor ordered

Clinpath: Just what the doctor ordered on The Adelaide Show Podcast

In this week’s episode of The Adelaide Show, we explore pathology with the team from Clinpath; Dr Fergus Whitehead, Dr Devika Thomas, and Dr Travis Brown.

In case you missed it, The Adelaide Show Podcast is discussed in the current, May 2020 issue of SA Life Magazine.

The SA Drink Of The Week is a Whisky from Iniquity Whisky in Adelaide.

And in the Musical Pilgrimage, we hear from former guest, Alexandra Lopez, who has a song to share and a story to tell .

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Running Sheet: Clinpath: Just what the doctor ordered

00:00:00 Intro

Introduction to the show.

00:02:18 SA Drink Of The Week

Blend 18 from Iniquity Single Malt Whisky, Adelaide. And distiller, Ian Schmidt from Iniquity Whisky leads us through the tasting.

00:10:50 Clinpath

Amid our global struggle against Covid-19, much attention has been focused on frontline workers like doctors and nurses, but behind the scenes, the normally busy workers in pathology labs have been working over time to process tests while juggling their normal workloads. And all this has been happening amid shortage of personal protective equipment, which is not something you want to imagine when you’re dealing with swabs and samples all potentially rife with disease.

One of our premier pathology laboratories is Clinpath Pathology and to dissect this clandestine world of dangerous organisms and screening programs, we have Clinpath CEO, Dr Fergus Whitehead, Medical Director, Dr Devika Thomas, and General Pathologist, Dr Travis Brown.

Undoubtedly, we’re going to get to important topics like Covid-19 testing and cancer screenings, but I want to start with something very humble. For most of us, the closest we come to thinking about micro-organisms is the three second rule. Our toast hits the floor, butter side down, and we figure if we pick it up quickly we’ll be fine. But I want to start by asking you, from your perspective in which you are immersed in the world of screening and tests to find the most minute traces of bacteria and biological markers, what goes through your minds in that scenario?

I believe it was Socrates who said the beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms, so let’s define pathology. Most of us have a general understanding that it’s a medical specialty in which body tissues and bodily fluids are examined and tested to help understand the cause and nature of diseases and help doctors diagnose and treat patients correctly. But what took me by surprise is that half of all Australians have some pathology test every year. I am sure you can add some nuance to that?

When we’re not fighting a pandemic, what are the routine activities you carry out at Clinpath?

Testing for and monitoring chronic conditions. I hear South Australia has the highest rate of diabetes compared to other states, how is Clinpath involved in this and what would be at stake if we didn’t have access to your tests

I hear our state also has several areas with a high concentration of heart disease. What can blood tests do in relation to this issue?

Another area that keeps pathologists busy is pregnancy. There are about 20,000 babies born in SA each year. Can any of you do the calculations out loud about how many various tests are likely to be needed among these mums-to-be?

Turning to Covid-19. How has that impacted your normal service delivery because I see you’re right there with three types of testing and drive through testing centres?

I hear these Covid-19 tests surprise people because you push the collection stick quite deeply into the nose or throat. Why is that?

Put poo in post. When we give blood or some other samples, are we confident that the “active ingredient” or the “trace element” is going to be widely distributed throughout the body? Or is it possible you could get a clean sample and miss something?

When we have to do fasting bloods, how strict do we need to be? Does water count?

Can I confess? I had to do a blood sugar test and if it was bad the doctor was going to be able to use a special drug off-label that can really drop your weight quickly. So I overdosed on ice cream. But still got normal results.

How real is the issue contamination, especially because we see tests taken and then they’re ferried around in your little cars, etc?

Would it be fair to say the lunchroom at Clinpath laboratories would be gold standard clean? Or are the people working with you still human and sometimes forget that opened can of tuna in the fridge?

Many of us are fascinated by pathology through the filter of forensic pathology. TV shows and movies from Quincy to CSI have made the science fascinating. These heroes sifts through the fragmented remains of life and find evidence that can tell stories. Are there any characters in fiction, or even non-fiction, who are your heroes?

Charlie from your team has innocently sent me some terms to surprise you with. Are you ready?

1.      Gilberts Syndrome

2.      Calprotectin

3.      Alpha Thalassaemia

4.      Keratoacanthoma

5.      Phaeochromocytoma

6.      Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia

Do any of you have favourite organs or systems within the body that fascinate you? If it was me, it would be the liver because I’ve punished mine but it keeps bouncing back?

00:59:44 Musical Pilgrimage

In the musical pilgrimage, we have a track called Buckbean In The Bog, an audiobook written by Luke Turton and read by Alexandra Lopez.

You can get a copy from Ali’s Facebook page, Alexandra Lopez.

Here’s this week’s preview video.

SFX: Throughout the podcast we use free sfx from for the harp, the visa stamp, the silent movie music, the stylus, the radio signal sfx, the wine pouring and cork pulling sfx, and the swooshes around Siri.

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