Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Americans Taking More Antidepressants Than Ever

Remember when the best-selling book Listening to Prozac came out almost 20 years ago?

Now Americans aren’t just reading about Prozac. They are taking it and other antidepressants (Celexa, Effexor, Paxil, Zoloft, to name just a few) in astounding numbers.

According to a report released yesterday by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), the rate of antidepressant use in this country among teens and adults (people ages 12 and older) increased by almost 400% between 1988–1994 and 2005–2008.

The federal government’s health statisticians figure that Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*

America Has A Heart

As an American, I was proud when I heard the news. I grinned to myself. It was on my way to work, through a beautiful city park, with the sun rising over the hillside. The morning radio program reported the news that a California judge overturned their state’s ban on gay marriage.

I know what you’re thinking: A medical blog is running amuck right into a political hornet’s nest. But isn’t it true that a nation’s kindness is a defining characteristic?

America and Americans do much that is good and right. Examples of such goodness are too numerous to list. If you are a victim of a calamity, you can be sure that America will help. Ask Haiti. And it’s not just foreign countries, we help each other. There’s a flood and then there are volunteers. A power outage and there are cords across the streets. It’s not controversial to say we are a kind nation. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

Healthcare Reform: Why I’m Scared

I’m scared because I’m reading articles about people threatening to kill — note that word “kill” — elected officials because of their vote on healthcare reform.

A man was arrested last week for his threats against Nancy Pelosi. Another man was arrested for threatening the two senators from Washington state, saying, “I do pack, and I will not blink when I’m confronted. It’s not a threat, it’s a guarantee.”

One congressman’s campaign received an email that read, “If our tea parties had hoods, we would burn your (expletive) on a cross on the White House front lawn,” while another had bricks thrown through the windows of his brother’s house (which was listed as his official address) and the propane line to his gas grill was cut.

The Associated Press reported that the Senate’s Sargent-At-Arms, who monitors security in both houses, reported 42 incidents in the first three months of 2010 — nearly three times the 15 cases that occurred during the same timeframe in 2009, and all related to healthcare reform. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at A Medical Writer's Musings on Medicine, Health Care, and the Writing Life*

Healthcare Reform: The State Of The States

States are varying in their reactions to healthcare reform:

Wisconsin is creating an office of healthcare reform to develop its health insurance exchange and explain changes to constituents.

Tennessee won a court ruling to remove 100,000 from its Medicaid rolls.

– Leaders in 18 states vow to challenge the new law in court. But in Idaho, a challenger for the governor’s office proposes instead taking advantage of a federal waiver that exempts states that enact reforms that control costs and improve access better than the federal laws do. (Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, Kaiser Health News, Reuters, Idaho Reporter)

At the federal level, President Obama and supporters continue to try to sell the reforms to Americans while the opposition tries to figure out its next steps. “Soak the rich” might be one phrase to revive, but they’d do best to distance themselves from the tea-baggers, who have spiraled out of control. (The Hill, Los Angeles Times, USA Today)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Is Lack Of Kindness The Greatest Barrier To Healthcare Reform?

Ancient people couldn’t understand why solar eclipses happened, so they looked for explanations that fit what they saw:

A recurring and pervasive embodiment of the eclipse was a dragon, or a demon, who devours the sun. The ancient Chinese would produce great noise and commotion during an eclipse, banging on pots and drums to frighten away the dragon.

They weren’t crazy, although if we accept their explanation, their solutions seem pretty illogical.  I mean, would a dragon big and powerful enough to eat the sun really be scared away by people banging on pots and drums?

I guess I don’t understand the skittishness of giant sun-devouring dragons.

But this the trouble.  When you come at a problem with a faulty premise — and insist on keeping that premise — it leads you down some very strange paths. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all book reviews »