Medicine

The “opioid epidemic” consistently addressed in the news, by politicians and throughout social media conflates many aspects of the issue, often speaking interchangeably about prescription medications and illicit drugs. When the narrative and identifying of the problems get so confused and blurred or legal and political grandstanding becomes more about virtue signaling than honest analysis of multifactorial causal agents and helpful action, the solutions get further and further out of reach. As does the suffering.

The mere existence of an opioid pill is not why there is a crisis.

Myths abound in the public forum surrounding who caused it, what “it” actually is, how we got here, what it will take to fix it and who we can blame for the totality of a truly complex situation....

The exhaled breath or “blow” squirted from the Eastern Australian humpback whale is replete with its own viral ecosystem or virome. Until now, understanding the “diversity, evolution and disease associations” of viruses in such natural habitats as an aquatic environment has posed quite the challenge for scientists when such marine wildlife is logistically inaccessible. With the help of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones, researchers were able to capture samples of this elusive whale to study.  

Their recently published findings revealed a number of new viruses from five different viral families. It is likely this was the first study of this kind to use drones for...

Protected personal health information has traditionally been exempt from privacy concerns, given the unique nature of its scope and regulation, until the advent of direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing, forced implementation of electronic medical records (EMRs) and prescription drug monitoring programs. With such a recent public focus on Facebook’s misleading policies over use of our data, Europe’s reactive efforts to govern the internet and the latest action to get the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 on the...

In our postmodern society -- where truth is relative, "fake news" is prevalent, and scientific facts are just an opinion -- it shouldn't come as a surprise that modern medicine is facing a backlash.

Evidence-based medicine, which is supported by a bedrock of biomedical science, literally has saved the lives of billions of people. Yet, modern medicine has been sustaining an assault from multiple fronts in recent years.

One front has fought against long-standing practices of public health meant to prevent disease, such as vaccination, pasteurization, and water fluoridation. A second front rages against those responsible for treating disease, such as medical doctors and pharmaceutical companies, who have been accused of conspiring against patients, for instance by...

The incidence of prostate cancer tripled between 1975 and the early 90’s. What changed? Sun exposure is an acknowledged risk factor in the development of melanoma – but oddly enough, for those with melanoma, a history of greater sun exposure is associated with a 50% better survival. How can sunlight be both good and bad? And women with higher socioeconomic status have twice the number of breast cancers diagnosed than their low socioeconomic status sisters. Does that mean that greater income somehow predisposes to breast cancer? How can all of these findings be true? Heisenberg.

Werner Heisenberg and his ‘Uncertainty Principle’ are at play and are the subject of a thought piece on the uncertainty principle’s consequences for medical studies. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle...

I recognize that I am older and that medical training has changed quite a bit. I did not realize how much until I ran across this article titled, “Patient bedside important for medical student learning.” [Full disclosure - I spent an hour trying to get at the actual article, but could not so what I am about to say represent my reading of the press release. I apologize in advance]. The article reports on a “web-based tool” called Learning Moment that allows a student to record their learning experiences. In a pilot study, conducted in the emergency department, the logs reveal that the majority of ‘learning’ recorded by students was, get ready for it, in patient rooms. The authors also noted some ‘learning’ at computer workstations and in rooms specifically for resuscitation of...

Nothing elicits a surge in my skeptic meter like the term world-renowned when used in the medical realm. Especially since it is typically self-described by those selling something, routinely an unnecessary product or procedure.

Those who are authentically world-renowned, who are the real deal, rarely boast about it. Shameless self-promotion is a tough thing for the more earnest medical and science professionals. With the ever-increasing competition today, striking the balance so as to garner enough interest in their work so they can pursue what they so incredibly cherish is often an unnatural road.

Being exactly who you say you are, nothing more and nothing less, reflects the best there is in medicine. This way of navigating the profession prioritizes patient...

Like a coffee stain on a new carpet, Karl Marx stubbornly refuses to go away. The appeal of his ideas seems to be rooted in some fanciful, whitewashed version of history, because almost without fail, Marx's biggest fans are those people who never had to live under the consequences of his political philosophy.

Attempts to rehabilitate Marx's image occur among left-wing academics, usually fringe economists and undergraduate philosophy majors. Marx is not a typical topic of conversation among biomedical scientists, which is why a recent editorial by Richard Horton, editor-...

When it comes to seeking medical care, my focus is always on: Who is the best person for the job (replete with mounting evidence of good outcomes)? Which hospital is most familiar with the diagnosis at hand? Who has performed the most surgeries on that diagnosis in that particular field? Dealt with the most complex cases? Who has the most qualified team of highly trained support? Has the ringing endorsement of all staff from specialist colleagues to surgical nurses to anesthesiology to residents and so on. In other words, would the people in the know send their most cherished loved ones to them? 

Convenience would be low on my priority list. As would the beauty of the facility itself. Clean and sterile-seeming, out of concern for infection risks, would come to mind as important...

Where is the best state to practice medicine? I would argue the latest study on the topic does little to answer the question given the metrics chosen. But, the project does provide a template and way to calculate your personal level of interest in the pre-selected benchmarks. The result is a starting point that guides your thought process more than it might firm up any decisive actions on the subject.

Given the parameters of cost of living, residency retention rate, tax climate, physician density, malpractice premiums (averages) and Medicare’s Geographic Cost Index (1),...