Intended for healthcare professionals

Minerva Minerva


BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 10 June 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1614

Roman soldiers used urtication, or external stinging, to relieve the pain of arthritis. Since then, many people have tried stinging their aching joints with nettles. The first randomised trial appeared this month in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (2000;93:305-9). In a crossover trial of 27 patients, applying stinging nettle to an arthritic thumb or finger reduced pain scores and disability, although blinding was difficult because white deadnettle, the control treatment, has no sting.

The culture of blame that pervades the NHS is responsible for many of its recent problems. Errors are not reported, nothing is learned, so flawed systems remain flawed. In the United States, NASA has been called in to set up a blame free, anonymous reporting system that mimics its successful Aviation Reporting System for aviation errors (New York Times 31 May). Healthcare workers in 172 hospitals will report any mistakes they make or witness. Experts will then look for repeating patterns in the anonymous data and implement changes to stop the error happening again.

Working in the healthcare industry is one of the riskiest jobs in Canada, according to data released by the Workers' Compensation Board of British Columbia ( In 1998, 7% of full …

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