public health

It was such a privilege and honor for me to be invited by the incomparable Suzi Abrams and Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Southern New Jersey to present on how to be an advocate for yourself or a loved one in the medical realm. To inform from a physician's perspective, I put together a guide on the subject that can be found by scrolling down in this article. The topic of patient advocacy is very close to my heart, so when I was invited to speak by someone I deeply admire who runs an effective, successful program the community vitally needs,...

A multidisciplinary team from Texas just published their work in PLOS Medicine on U.S. vaccination rates in children, specifically focusing on nonmedical exemptions (NMEs) in states and counties. With 72.2% of those 19 to 35 months of age fully vaccinated nationwide, the researchers sought to determine the impact of parental concerns over safety and efficacy in opt out rates due to religious and philosophical beliefs. Their analysis of data was based on the 18 states that allow more nonspecific, philosophical-belief NMEs that can include religious objections.

What did they discover?

         As summarized from...

Unless they're eradicated smallpox-style, infectious diseases never disappear. Like an unlucky penny, they can show up at any time.

The reason is because most microbes can survive elsewhere, either in the environment or other animals or both, a concept known as a "reservoir." That is why prevention is the key to public health. And prevention is achieved primarily through practices such as vaccination, water chlorination, pasteurization, sanitation, and good personal hygiene (as well as common sense). If we take away any one of these practices, we can expect relatively rare infectious diseases to come back. Three stories serve to underscore this crucial lesson.

Rabies in Seattle

Recently, a bat was lying on the ground on the University of Washington...

Not that long ago, if a company had invented a far safer way to deliver nicotine to addicted smokers, politicians would be celebrating. Smoking is one of the leading preventable causes of disease and death in the world. If every smoker quit cigarettes today, we would have a healthier society, and healthcare costs undoubtedly would decrease. That's a win-win.

But today, partisanship has ruined just about everything. It has crept into nearly every aspect of American life, from the workplace and classroom to sporting events and even dinner table conversations. A good idea is rejected simply because the "other team" came up with it.

This is a terrible development for our culture. But it's even worse for areas such as public health, because people die when we implement bad...

President Trump’s former National Security Advisor, General H.R. McMaster, lost his father recently to a death being investigated as “suspicious.” Though published accounts indicate the tragic event was deemed by the Department of Health to be due to “blunt impact head trauma” and “ruled an accident,” Philadelphia police in cooperation with the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office are, for not entirely known reasons, in the beginning phases of scrutinizing the incident.

H.R. McMaster Sr. was a resident of a senior living facility in Philadelphia that provides a host of supportive services – it has been reported that he was receiving care there after enduring a stroke. According to...

It should come as no surprise that drug traffickers are quite creative about distributing their du jour illicit product. Most recently, multiple agencies including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Homeland Security, intercepted an operation using legitimate Disney Donald Ducks and Winnie The Poohs as a cover for their imposter shipments of non-ceramic wax figurines replete with 500 lbs. of meth (estimated to be worth $2 million).

Drugs notoriously have been transferred for distribution using all sorts of vehicles intended to bypass discovery radars. The human body has been among the most dangerous ones. When a person swallows a bag of...

There is a stunning lack of practicality in modern-day America. This is reflected not only by our hyperpartisan politics -- in which politicians refuse to endorse good ideas if they come from the "other side" -- but in the never-ending culture wars.

Previously, the culture wars focused on topics such as gay marriage and abortion, but recently, it has shifted to things like sugar, "chemicals," obesity, and smoking. There is a large contingent of Americans who believe they have the right to dictate what you put into your body. Worse, some pass moral judgment on people who do not share their lifestyle. Smokers aren't simply engaging in harmful behavior; instead, they're fundamentally bad people.

Such beliefs appear to be gaining popularity. A...

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...

Imagine your wife suffers a cardiac arrest in the middle of the night and remains unconscious. You start CPR and tell your granddaughter to call 911. Paramedics arrive and, unbeknownst to you, automatically enroll her in a clinical trial without her or your consent as they attempt to revive her. You believe they don’t act fast enough to get her to the hospital and give her a shot you can’t decipher because they won’t permit you in the room (in your own home). Then, she dies.

Days later, you receive a letter in the mail alerting you she had

participated in an out-of-hospital study with the county paramedics as part of the...

What's the biggest, deadliest threat the world faces today? How a person answers that question reveals a lot about them.

Epidemiologists and microbiologists fear pandemics, economists fret over depressions, and foreign policy analysts fear war. Political partisans will often say something flip -- like Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton -- but the upside is that you no longer have to take that individual seriously.

Those who fancy themselves enlightened are likely to answer climate change, but like Paul Ehrlich's Population Bomb, this is simply the apocalypse du jour. Climate change is a slow-moving threat whose consequences are in the...