Monitor is much taken this week with news of the Internet revolution and its capacity to roll back the boundaries of good taste. By this time next year, 175 hospitals are expected to have signed up to a service being piloted in a handful of maternity units which will save new parents the bother of phoning round anxious friends and family to inform them of junior's arrival. Thanks to the Greater New York Hospital Association, the event can now be broadcast as a live 30-minute video-conference. Viewers cane-mail questions and comments in real time - and just to help pay for it all, they will have on-screen access to an electronic gift registry, with links to Toys R Us, Vermont Teddy Bears and others. So that's: 'Push, push, push... it's a boy - click once to buy the blue teddy bear...'
Still in the US, spare a thought - as Dobbo surely will as he continues to wrestle with that tricky royal commission call for free care-home nursing - for the plight of California governor Gray Davis. Having been elected with strong backing from the local nurses' union, he now finds that the state legislature has passed a bill to set mandatory staff-patient ratios in all acute hospitals. The union is obviously cock-a-hoop, having pushed as hard to get the bill through as it did to get Mr Davis into the governor's mansion. The only problem is, California's hospitals reckon it will cost something in the region of $700m a year. The governor has until 10 October to decide whether to veto the bill. And Dobbo thinks he's got problems.
Elsewhere in the colonies, Monitor is impressed by the efforts of the Victoria State Government to attract British GPs to work in the godforsaken bits of the Australian Bush no sensible local doctor will touch with a 10-foot crocodile prod. Its slick website extols the 'temperate climate, allowing year-round comfort', excellent sports opportunities and 'superb wines'. What it doesn't mention - apart, obviously, from things like the funnel-web spiders that hide in the toilet (see left) - is that, if you sign up as the GP for Yarrawonga or Riddell's Creek, it's for a minimum six-year term. And they say the days of transportation are over. Still, if you're having trouble with stroppy GPs, the address is www.dhs.vic.gov.au/vicgovdocs.
Sticking with GPs working overseas, Monitor is concerned at the plight of Dr Jim Bryson and his patients on the Scottish island of Cumbrae. Apparently, it is so remote that the local ferry company has decided to withdraw its long-standing offer to ship emergency cases to the mainland at any hour of the day or night. Monitor is indebted to GP magazine, for passing on the company's excuse that the working-time directive means its ships can no longer make the crossing after 6.45pm. They can be so distant, Scottish islands, can't they? Er, not perhaps in this case: having checked in the schoolboy's atlas which serves the vast army of fact checkers here at HSJ Towers, Monitor can reveal that Cumbrae is all of nine miles from the mainland - and is closer to Glasgow than one side of London is to the other.
Putting the atlas to one side in favour of more modern reference sources, Monitor is indebted to Cambridge University academic Jonathan Swinton for his online dictionary of epidemiology - at www.kings.cam.ac.uk/~js229/glossary.html - and its perceptive definition of 'dictionary' as 'a device for starting futile arguments over definitions'.
And one from the history books. As well-educated readers will surely know, the baroque composer George Frederic Handel was something of a philanthropist, handing over the proceeds from performances of his Messiah to the Foundling Hospital in London for years on end. Maybe that's why that esteemed drug industry body the British Generic Manufacturers Association decided to use one of his compositions for 'call holding'. But Monitor can't help wondering who selected the composer's Dead March.
Finally, proving that if you can't solve an IT problem, you can always baffle people with jargon, Monitor is happy to pass on the following excuse offered by one top London medical school to its staff: 'Some of you may have experienced problems accessing the world wide web today. This was due to a network interface controller failure on our web cache late last night. The service was redirected to a non-productive development web cache, but unfortunately this machine was not of sufficient specification to cope with traffic from the whole site. The problem with the production web cache was resolved today at approximately 1pm, and all web services should now be back to normal. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused, and we are currently investigating ways of providing redundancy for this service.'