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Latest Posts

Can Pre-Term Labor Be Detected Earlier?

a7nqvlgy.jpgA team of biomedical engineering masters students at Johns Hopkins have developed a device that they hope will be able to spot oncoming pre-term labor in pregnant women earlier than by using an external tocodynamometer.

The CervoCheck device is meant to be inserted into the vaginal canal/cervical opening where it then can measure electrical signals characteristic of contractions. Prototypes of the device are currently being tested in animals. We sympathize with those who have to insert them into pigs(?). Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Live Longer With Strong Social Ties

A study published in the July PLoS Medicine is getting a lot of press for its conclusion that strong social networks are related to increased lifespan.

The meta-analysis of 148 studies involving 308,849 people found that those with stronger relationships were 50 percent more likely to survive over 7.5 years of follow-up. What’s more, the researchers reported that a lack of strong social ties is as bad healthwise as drinking or smoking, and worse than not exercising or being obese.

But although the association between strong social ties and improved longevity seems robust, other factors could be at play, and applying the findings in clinical practice could be difficult. And sorry, Facebook fanatics: Online “friendships” aren’t thought to count as much as in-person ones do. (PLoS Medicine, New York Times, TIME, The Atlantic)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

The Global Burden Of Diseases: Who’s Healthier On The Planet?

survey_button_square.gifMy friend and colleague Bill Heisel, one of our news reviewers, also works at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. He wrote to me that this group:

“… has launched a major global health survey to measure the impact of more than 300 diseases or injuries and more than 40 risk factors. This is the most ambitious global health measurement project in two decades. And when people answer the survey, they will be providing information that will directly shape the final outcome of the research because ‘disease burden’ is partly objective but partly subjective.”

And his pitch to anyone to take the 15-minute, anonymous, online survey is this:

“With unprecedented money and attention pouring into global health efforts, the need for accurate data is urgent. By taking part in the survey, you will contribute to the scientific understanding of global health problems and ultimately enable policymakers to make better decisions.”

Click HERE to begin the survey. Thanks for the news, Bill. And thanks to anyone who takes the time to complete the survey. You may help this team reach its goal of 50,000 people around the globe filling out the survey.

The research is part of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2010 led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, in collaboration with Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Queensland, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

And you can follow the project on Twitter.

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

On The Battlefield Against Diabetes


I have no idea how it happened, but yesterday was a crummy day, diabetes-wise. Somehow, early in the evening, I heard the Dexcom singing from the kitchen countertop, and BSparl and I went over to investigate.

“High.” With a long line at the very top of the Dexcom screen.

“Hi to you, jerkface,” I said, pulling out my meter to see just what the greeting was about. And I saw a sticky 451 mg/dl blinking back at me.

What the fern?” I couldn’t figure out how I ended up so high, especially since after lunch I was 174 mg/dl and flatlined on the Dex.

And I was so angry. How does this happen? Did I eat the wrong thing? Take a shallow bolus? Is the pump ferning with me? Could the insulin have spoiled? Did I just lose track of everything and my numbers went berserk on me? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

A Poem About An Ending

She coughs
and heaves a breathless goodbye
into the bedside phone.

Her lungs
damp, bloated, sacked honeycomb
wheeze with vanishing bees.

The room
of sensors and startling noise
has not air to float upon.

slakes a thirst for breathable sky
and calms the panic within.

The shame
of living, of death smiling,
savoring smoke and ash.

Eyes closed
she imagines her son, boy,
man, precious evermore.

Beautiful white, red, and black
from a husband who waits.

spinning in galaxies far,
with summer lightning bugs.

And then
it is upon her, the moment,
dreaded, practiced, boundless.

We run
through soft sands lit by moonlight,
now tumbling under waves.

All that matters
And all that happens

The absence of pain and hunger
the end of struggle and story
mark an indifferent,
yet decent,

*This blog post was originally published at The Examining Room of Dr. Charles*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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