BMJ 2008; 336 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39534.662338.47 (Published 03 April 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:780

In the bad old days, merchant seafaring was the most hazardous occupation in Britain, with a six times greater rate of fatal accidents than coal mining. At the end of the 19th century, a jaw dropping one in 40 seafarers on sailing ships died in an accident each year. A remarkable historical study (Occupational Medicine 2008;58:129-37; doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqm149) documents how things have improved over the past 87 years. Since 1988, no shipping disaster in the UK fleet has claimed more than two seafarers’ lives. Even so, it remains a dangerous business—the relative risk for fatal accidents is 12 times higher than in the general workforce.

Once again, what is written in the textbooks is wrong. This time, it concerns the anatomy of the perineal membrane in women. The details are important only for gynaecologists undertaking posterior colporrhaphy, but Minerva was interested in the authors’ speculation that the error arose because of the longstanding practice of considering the female anatomy a variant of male anatomy, even in the part of the body that defines the anatomical differences between the …

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