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Looking Ahead: Considering What Medical Breakthroughs We’ll See In The Future

A Little History:
It’s 1958 and Ensign Thomas Eggleston is giving an inservice to US Navy Nurses LT. Frances Hogan, LCDR Magie Ziskovsky, and LCDR Edna Schnips about the Van Der Graaff teletherapy machine. The nurses were participating in the Nuclear Nursing Course at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, MD. This machine was considered a medical breakthrough in its day. It looks antiquated now doesn’t it? I can only imagine what these Navy nurses were thinking while they stood next to this medical wonder.

Things have changed since I became a nurse. There were no CAT Scans or MRI machines when I graduated from school. There were no IV pumps either. We ran our IVs by counting drops that flowed into a drip chamber, and we monitored the hourly flow rate by glancing at a strip of medical tape that we marked off in CCs and ran down the side of each IV bottle. The nursing text books were different back then, too. There was no mention of AIDS and a diagnosis of Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Nurse Ratched's Place*

Perhaps Breakthrough Is Too Strong A Word

Some months I can’t wait for my new issue of Prevention magazine to arrive, just so I can see how they’ve stretched the envelope this time.

How about this month’s cover, trumpeting a Cancer Vaccine Breakthrough in big yellow font at lower left of the cover?

So I started flipping through the Table of Contents for the big story.  Hmmm….nothing there.  Odd.

So I started flipping through the pages of tips for “jiggle-proof arms and abs” and such and….voila…on page 13 I found the big story under another “Cancer Breakthrough” heading.

In 16 words in that little box, I learned that a vaccine was Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Health News Review*

When Are Pain Pumps Useful Following Plastic Surgery?

About ten years ago plastic surgery had a nice little advance- the advent of the disposable pain pump. Breakthroughs in medicine are far fewer than advertising copy would have you believe, but this one is real. Unfortunately some practices use them like a marketing ploy in all cases and really don’t spend the time to make them work well or minimize their risk. Others don’t see the benefit and don’t use them at all.

Pain pumps are quite useful in some cases when used correctly. Plastic surgery is a technical specialty and some surgeons are more adept at making things work than others. There are risks with them and cases in which the benefit is harder to measure.

How Does a Pain Pump Work? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Truth in Cosmetic Surgery*

Several Media Outlets Overhype Very Early Stem Cell Research

Journalist Larry Husten, on his Cardiobrief blog, writes, “Hype Aside, Hope for Stem Cell Therapy May Be Emerging From Hibernation.

It was one of the only notes of caution we saw in our limited sampling of news stories about an analysis of an experimental stem cell intervention in 14 people – only 8 of whom were followed for a year. Husten wrote:

“Two small studies of cardiac stem cells for the treatment of heart failure have shown promise, but ABC News, CBS News and other media outlets are throwing around words like “medical breakthrough” and “heart failure cure.” ABC News correspondent Richard Besser was so enthusiastic that anchor Diane Sawyer commented that she had never seen him “so excited.” The first author of one of the studies, Roberto Bolli, said the work could represent “the biggest advance in cardiology in my lifetime.”

The reality may be somewhat more prosaic.” Read more »

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

Dr. Oz Talks The Dangers Of Apple Juice: Fear-Mongering At Its Worst

MedPage Today reports:

Mehmet Oz, MD, the Columbia University thoracic surgeon who gained fame first in books and more recently with his syndicated television show, has run afoul of the Food and Drug Administration with his report about levels of arsenic in popular brands of apple juice.

The FDA called the report “irresponsible and misleading” and another TV doc, ABC’s Richard Besser, MD, accused Oz of fear-mongering.

Fox News’ Dr. Manny Alvarez rushes to Oz’s defense, though:

“I’m very proud of Dr. Oz for his report today on potentially dangerous levels of arsenic found in certain brands of apple juice, which may classify some of them as unsuitable for consumption. He’s sounding the alarm for an issue that I believe needs to be brought to attention.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to Read more »

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

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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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