A 47-year-old Chicago man died after trying to remove his own pacemaker. He’s not the first to try self-surgery, as it turns out.
The Chicago Tribunedescribed this most recent attempt at self-surgery:
“Chicago Fire Department paramedics were called after the man told a worker in the home that he was experiencing chest pains and asked them to call an ambulance.
“The man returned to his room, where he remained until paramedics arrived, police said. When they did, he complained to them about chest pains and was taken to the ambulance where he fell unconscious, police said.
“As paramedics were trying to revive him, they discovered Read more »
The fact that Amber Miller did not fall or faint or develop complications while running in the Chicago Marathon is nothing short of a miracle. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. What on earth was her physician thinking when she was given the green light to half-run half-walk a 26.2 mile marathon? Miller was not your usual runner; she was approximately 39 weeks pregnant.
Although pregnant women are encouraged to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle that includes aerobic exercise, moderation is the order of the day. A woman’s body changes when she becomes pregnant. She has more fluid circulating in her body; hormones from the pregnancy make her ligaments more relaxed, thus she waddles. As the baby enlarges, the diaphragm (aka muscle of respiration) gets pushed up making it difficult for pregnant women to breathe. The heart rate increases and the center of gravity changes as the uterus becomes larger thus, increasing her risk of falling.
I’ve discovered over the years that I really like economics. I never took an econ class in my entire life, since I was pretty focused on the life sciences, but I’ve picked up a fair amount informally over the years. Fortunately I have a strong background in statistics and math, and I’ve done a lot of reading on economics. I wouldn’t say that I have any special level of understanding or credibility on the topic. Perhaps it should be noted that my wife took away the checkbook for good reason. But I enjoy it as a topic, as something to read about and a powerful tool for understanding how the world works.
One consequence of being an ER doc is that you are pretty close to “the street,” and I don’t mean Wall Street. I mean the folks living and scrounging on the streets. As a matter of functioning in the job, you learn the street jargon, you learn what drugs people are using and why, and what the effects of those drugs look like.
The other day I saw a middle-aged guy brought in for acting really weird. Though everything in his social history argued against it, he just looked like he was on meth. I checked a tox, and sure enough, it came back positive. He strenuously denied any drugs, but eventually gave in and admitted the meth use.
I remember in residency walking through downtown Baltimore with a fellow resident and our spouses, and we amazed them by serially identifying the likely drug of choice of the various street people we passed, based on casual observation of their behavior. It’s just what we do. Baltimore was a heroin town. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*
This past September, a group of medical residents at my institution began seeing primary care patients at a free clinic down the street from our tertiary academic medical center (“hospital clinic”). Far from my expectations, the care we are able to provide at our free clinic is in many ways better than our hospital clinic. Somewhat paradoxically, the experience has given me a taste of what the practice of medicine is like in single-payer healthcare systems like Canada’s.
When I volunteered to start seeing patients at a nearby free clinic, I had little idea what I was signing up for. The term “free clinic” conjured up memories as a medical student in East Baltimore tending to patients at a local homeless shelter with severe frostbite or at a student-run clinic rummaging through the storage room for anti-hypertensive medications. I expected our patients to be terribly poor, the clinic to be little more than a warehouse, for supplies and medications to be few and far between, and for the care we provided to be more about putting out fires than delivering high-quality primary care.
But the place I have come to cherish working at is none of these things. A surprising number of our patients have stable lives and regular jobs — it’s just that their jobs don’t offer health insurance (including some who work in healthcare!) Patients call for appointments. When they arrive they are triaged by a nurse who takes their vitals and asks about their chief complaint before putting them in an exam room. We provide comprehensive primary care complete with routine lab tests for cholesterol and diabetes, age appropriate vaccinations, and referrals for mammograms and colon cancer screening. Read more »
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