Harm Reduction

A new study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology suggests increased use and overdose of the common over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever and fever reducing medication, acetaminophen, happens during cold and flu season. No surprise there. People don’t often realize that there are multiple medicines in OTC cold and cough remedies and they routinely take a few different ones when sick, thereby ingesting excessive amounts as many contain it as an active ingredient.

These findings are in line with a disturbing trend of medication errors being on the rise outside of healthcare facilities - many resulting in serious outcomes and most frequently occurring at home. Though the design...

We all know the age-old philosophical classic, “If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Thanks to Snowmageddon currently preoccupying the Northeast, I can now definitively answer this question. YES! And, the sound is thunderous, loud and accompanied by profound shaking of the ground and your foundation. The act is startling, swift, precipitous and without warning. It mimics the feel of an earthquake.

That’s what I just experienced as a huge tree split in two down through its trunk and rapidly crashed on either side of my car entrapping it. Some parts went on to enter the living room shattering windows into the house.

What do you do when that happens?

First, you catch your breath and realize that you are...

Using a cell phone while driving is considered bad form, 47 states ban texting, 15 states prohibit hand-held cell phone use, and oddly enough a few states restrict these bans only to novice drivers – presumably because multi-tasking is a skill we can learn. A meta-analysis in the journal Human Factors updates what we know about using cell phones while driving.

The analysis considered only experimental studies, no surveys or epidemiological reports. They looked at studies examining driving performance, in traffic situations or scenarios, and more specifically at driving while talking – that includes all conversations, on the phone and with passengers. The studies had...

A recent news article claimed that "organic" furniture is less likely to kill you in a house fire because "synthetic" materials will burn up to 8 times faster. It was accompanied by a video from the Underwriter Laboratories (UL) certification company (1) and a quote from a fire captain in Arkansas (2) which suggested they were both affirming the claim was true. 

Let's find out.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, there is a home fire every 86 seconds. That is 1,000 per day in a country of 330,000,000 people. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and injuries, but home fire-related deaths often involve furniture - because they often...

Due to the popularity of my Inanimate Objects in Orifices series which takes you through the journey and consequence of foreign bodies in the body from eyes, ears, nose, throat to vagina and penis (see here or here), I will shift gears here to the creepy crawlers...

When it comes to AEDs and the potential to save lives, the good news keeps on coming.  

We now have more support to show that when a bystander uses a portable defibrillator on someone suffering cardiac arrest in a public place, chances of survival increase markedly. Another big plus: the stricken patient emerges from hospital care in relatively better physical condition.

The results of a new study using data from a four-year period involving OHCA patients, or those experiencing out-of-hospital cardiac arrest – who were "shockable," or able to be treated with a nearby defibrillator – found that their survival chances more than doubled when intervention occurred before medical personnel arrived. Further, the likelihood of these patients being able to leave the hospital on...

We all tend to do certain things because “it’s just what you do” or out of passive acceptance of conventional wisdom. In the medical realm especially, it’s always important to reassess the why.

Seldom does a week go by where I am not asked about a surgeon I prefer for a particular disease or what hospital is best for this or that. Though these questions are important to the topic at hand, others routinely get overlooked that can hold the same if not greater importance.

For example

Do you notice how people will get a few surgical opinions, but never interview the anesthesiologist?

Or, follow an obstetrician to a hospital that has a nice or luxurious labor and delivery floor, but lacks the highest level of neonatal intensive care unit...

Bombarded by elation, jubilance and some wacky celebratory rituals, being in Philadelphia during the Eagles victorious playoff football game earlier this week against the Minnesota Vikings was quite an eye-opening experience for me.

First, there was the pre-game set-up throughout news outlets and social media that city officials were greasing up poles and lamp posts in anticipation of a win - because, apparently, there must be enough people who would injure themselves by climbing them for the city to deem the prevention measure even necessary. Then, post-game and with the team Super Bowl bound, the public chants grew louder and mishap videos inundated the internet. This one went viral as it depicts a happy fan so consumed with zeal that he ran into a subway beam, see...

Philadelphia, the city with one of the highest incidences of drug overdoses, announced yesterday support for “comprehensive user engagement sites”– a facility where drug-addicted individuals can use their drugs under the nominal supervision of nurses. Referrals can be made for addiction services.

While the media outlets have all widely broadcast their decision, a closer look indicates that Philadelphia has “yet to announce a framework for overseeing the program, potential locations, or a timeline for when sites could open.” I found no information on funding at all, so the announcement is perhaps at best a trial balloon and signal of intent. City officials are clear that this is just part rather than a complete solution; it is a harm-reduction strategy. Philadelphia’s decision is...

After seven years at this job that there can't possibly be any surprises left, right? We've seen it all: Raw water, raw milk, coffee enemas, vaginal steam cleaning, female Viagra, gluten-free gluten, placenta eating, killer cash register receipts, penis bleaching, mind-control fluoride, studies of pee in pools, and inorganic pesticides used in organic farming. 

You name it, we've seen it. But let's not forget what I was reminded of, one of the grand-daddies of them all, when I saw this in the window of a carwash (soap-free?).

These "natural" things have been around since 1982, which could be interpreted as a surrogate measure of how often...