News and Views

In the last few weeks, there have been a number of articles [1] on reducing the length of medical training to help ease the physician shortage. And our medical curriculum is due for a major overhaul, its foundational document, the Flexner report, was released over 100 years ago, and our medical needs and knowledge have changed. Shortening medical education may provide a “bonus” in easing the anticipated shortage of physicians but may have more significant unanticipated consequences.

The Bonus

While estimates vary, we are expected to need an additional 100,000 physicians beyond our current capacity to graduate physicians by 2030. Currently 90,000 complete medical schools annually from US schools so by reducing medical school one year we would have a one-...

While everything that's written these days is geared towards the internet and the online world, I frequently find it interesting to compare a particular article to its version in print. One reason is to compare how the piece is presented to readers.

While flipping through the printed version of The New York Times science section, ScienceTimes, I stopped to read an interesting piece on how college students regularly undervalue sleep, and how the lack of it prevents them from reaching their "academic potential."

Great topic to read up on. However, this column was tucked inside the section, appearing on page D5. More than likely the story's placement indicated how popular the newspaper's editors thought it would be for readers, who also figured that pieces titled "...

I like comedy news host John Oliver. He was among the top nine funniest guys in the first season of "Community" and he even won an Emmy when Jon Stewart made the jokes of Oliver's colleagues sound hilarious. So I was excited on Saturday when I got to send an email to our Board of Trustees and the staff at the American Council on Science and Health giddy that Oliver, host of HBO's "Last Week Tonight", was going to do a hit piece on us.

Maybe it's not a hit piece, maybe he is pro-vaccine, one replied, and is going to applaud our work on that. Or cheer our dismantling Dr. Oz and his supplement empire (along with half his audience) in 2015. Or note how we helped cause smoking in the US to collapse...

As much as I have loved and quietly chuckled over the many media headlines (and social media commentary) this week about a new study suggesting female patients with heart attacks fare better in terms of survival when treated by female physicians as opposed to their male counterparts, I settled quickly back into my skeptical optimist reality and went directly to the primary source to review for myself what the actual study can, does and does not convey.   

First, some context

It wasn’t very long ago that another report deluged public discourse about a similar topic based on the work of a...

When you practice medicine, you are often tethered to your smartphone. This is not simply for patient care purposes, but also for required access and availability to maintain your medical license and hospital affiliations, receive local or national health department announcements as well as many listservs commanded for credentialing purposes.

Multiple mandated email accounts and alert lines later, and your device delivers a constant flurry of messages that alternate between knowledge that an Ebola case arrived in NYC or there is a water main break on the third floor to announcements that a new “groundbreaking” study shows eating well and exercising promotes longevity.

All the while, you are running between hospital beds or exam rooms actively dealing with patient...

The U.S. electricity grid is hard to defend because of its enormous size and heavy dependency on digital communication and computerized control software. The number of potential targets is growing as “internet of things” devices, such as smart meters, solar arrays and household batteries, connect to smart grid systems.

As researchers of grid security, we believe that current security standards mandated by federal regulations provide sufficient protection against observed threats. But recent incidents demonstrate the ongoing challenge of ensuring everyone follows the guidelines, which themselves must change over time to keep up with technological shifts.

The threat is real: In late 2015 and again in 2016, Russian hackers shut down parts of Ukraine’s power grid. In March...

The US Preventative Care Task Force (USPCTF) indicated today that an electrocardiogram, an EKG, is not an ineffective screening tool for atrial fibrillation – a disorder of the heart’s rhythm. At the same time, several tech companies are strapping EKG recorders to our wrists, as fitness trackers and smartphones. Patients are becoming more empowered and knowledgeable about their fitness and "health" through their smartphones’ messages. These USPCTF guidelines, formerly only a physicians’ concern, is now vital to those of us receiving health information from our wrists. After all, “with great power, comes great responsibility.”

Background

Atrial fibrillation is a disorder of the upper chambers of the heart that collect the blood from our veins and passing...

It is time to question the boondoggle that is and will be the implementation of the World Health Organization-generated International Classification of Diseases, Eleventh Revision (ICD-11). Once it is likely adopted by the World Health Assembly next May and put into effect in 2022 after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) modify it, it will inevitably wreak havoc on the practice of medicine. But, don’t worry, despite further encumbering patient care, costing a bundle and contributing to physician job dissatisfaction, it will serve its real purpose of being a billing...

Results of a new study released this week about soccer, and the effects that "heading" the ball has on the brain, delivered one key takeaway message: women's brain matter appears to be more sensitive than men's.

While this may be true, it's important that we be somewhat cautious in making too much of this, given the way the study was conducted as well as how the conclusions are being repeated, and somewhat exaggerated when reported in the media.

A team of U.S. researchers sought to determine whether player gender played a role when measuring the impact of subconcussive hits when players "head" the ball, or change its direction by using it as a tool.

They got equal numbers of men and women to participate in the study; these players had roughly the same history and...

Patients with limited financial resources often have difficulties getting to their physician and hospital appointments. The federal regulations for Medicaid require the provision of free or low-cost transportation – Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT). Several states are asking for exemption from this requirement as part of their Medicaid expansions. The companies involved in the provision of this care have responded with whitepaper demonstrating a return on investment (ROI). Or have they?

The Medical Transportation Access Coalition, whose three founding companies provide NEMT to 38 million beneficiaries across 45 states commissioned the study. Bias aside, it is a deeply flawed study contributing much noise and little signal. It all begins well as they state their...