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Science
AT THE CUTTING EDGE
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Celebrating the unsung heroes of the slab room and the path lab.
Tuesdays 25 February and 4 March 2003 9.00-9.30pm

This series reveals why and how pathologists do a job that many of us feel deeply uneasy about. They are the linchpin of modern medicine. Their work involves searching out the roots of disease, designing the best treatment for the patient and diagnosing disease. They must dissect dead bodies, sample tissue and deal with life, disease and death in a way that most of us would prefer not to confront.

Pathology Laboratory


Programme 1

This programme gets inside the mind of the pathologist to explore how these doctors cope with doing their often emotionally charged job. Their public image is dire and many of them feel bruised following the Alder Hay Hospital scandal. Sue Armstrong, journalist and broadcaster, discovers exactly who the pathologists are and what motivates them. She reveals a sensitive group of doctors who are prepared to talk openly about feelings, emotions, sadness and loss. Sue discovers a renewed commitment to do the best for the living through investigating the dead while overcoming the emotional stress of a job that has been vilified by the public and media. These are dedicated, caring medical sleuths who eloquently describe how they cope with both death and life. The programme provides a moving reflection of a job that has been both misunderstood and maligned.

Listen again  Listen again to Programme 1
Amanda Burton as police pathologist Sam Ryan
Amanda Burton as police pathologist, Sam Ryan, in Silent Witness

Programme 2

If you ask a member of the public what pathologists do they immediately conjure up images of “Silent Witness” or “A Touch of Frost” where the pathologist saunters to the scene of the crime and gives an unrealistically accurate time of death. Forensic pathology is only a miniscule part of pathology. This programme reveals exactly what they do do most of the time and just how important it is to each every one of us. They play a pivotal role in diagnosis and the detection of disease and the design of drug treatments and therapy. All of us have used the services of a pathologist probably without even realising it. Their work involves specialist medical procedures from histopathology and medical microbiology to the newly emerging field of clinical cytogenetics. These are the subdivisions of this complex branch of medicine that few people will ever have heard of. By gaining access to laboratories where this work is done the programme will reveal what’s actually involved and just how crucial this work is, informing other medical specialisations and taking the guess work out of diagnosis.

The presenter is Edinburgh based medical journalist and broadcaster, Sue Armstrong.

Listen again  Listen again to Programme 2
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