I can already tell that this pregnancy is different from my first. When I was pregnant with Little Isis, I drank no caffeine and took no over-the-counter medication. I remember having a few headaches and Mr. Isis fighting with me to take a headache pill. I would then proclaim dramatically, “But I can’t! What if it hurts the baby?!”
This morning, now pregnant with my second, I washed down a Zyrtec and two Tylenol with a cup of coffee. The little bugger is going to have to grow up with Little Isis. He might as well start building up his tolerance to exogenous substances at some point. I figure, now that its got a closed neural tube and a beating heart, we might as well begin.
Still, you can’t blame a pregnant woman for being a bit neurotic. The feeling that one is solely responsible for the well-being of a developing creature, combined with often contradictory advice, is enough to make anyone nuts. Most online advice is completely and utterly useless. Take this answer from Russell Turk, M.D. on the popular pregnancy website BabyCenter in response to the common question, “Is it safe to drink diet soda during pregnancy?” He answers:
Diet sodas often contain both caffeine and an artificial sweetener. There are several types of artificial sweeteners you may see on nutrition labels:
Aspartame (NutraSweet): Seems to be okay when consumed in moderation (the amount found in one or two 12-ounce servings of soda per day).
Saccharin (Sweet’n Low): Saccharin was found to cause birth defects in laboratory rats when consumed in very high amounts. Because its safety in smaller amounts is hard to prove, I would advise avoiding it.
Sucralose (Splenda): This relatively new sweetener, a modified form of regular table sugar, appears to be safe. But because it hasn’t been extensively studied, it’s best used in moderation.
It’s generally bad advice and leaves one wondering: “What is moderation? Will one soda hurt my baby? Will two sodas hurt my baby? How about three?” The default answer when we don’t know seems to be to tell women to do things in “moderation.” This places the sole responsibility on her to know what moderation means, and allows her to feel the guilt if something goes wrong. I think that these imprecise answers leave many women feeling helpless and afraid. Read more »
Far more primary care doctors report detailed referrals than do specialists report receiving them. The same applies in reverse. Specialists report returning quality consultations, while primary care physicians report receiving them far less often.
Researchers reported in Archives of Internal Medicine that perceptions of communication regarding referrals and consultations differed widely. While 69.3 percent of primary care physicians reported “always” or “most of the time” sending a patient’s history and the reason for the consultation to specialists, only 34.8 percent of specialists said they “always” or “most of the time” received the information. And, while 80.6 percent of specialists said they “always” or “most of the time” send consultation results to the referring physicians, only 62.2 percent of primary care physicians said they received it.
The puppeteer skit features the interaction between a young man with a rash and his older physician. The patient is an informed kind of guy: He’s checked his own medical record on the doctor’s website, read up on rashes in the Boston Globe, checked pix on WebMD, seen an episode of “Gray’s Anatomy” about a rash and, most inventively, checked iDiagnose, a hypothetical app (I hope) that led him to the conclusion that he might have epidermal necrosis.
“Not to worry,” the patient informs Dr. Matthews, who meanwhile has been trying to examine him (“Say aaahhh” and more): He’s eligible for an experimental protocol. After some back-and-forth in which the doctor — who’s been quite courteous until this point, calling the patient “Mr. Horcher,” for example, and not admonishing the patient who’s got so many ideas of his own — the doctor says that the patient may be exacerbating the condition by scratching it, and questions the wisdom of taking an experimental treatment for a rash. Read more »
Over the long weekend I caught up on some reading. One article* stands out. It’s on informed consent, and the stunning disconnect between physicians’ and patients’ understanding of a procedure’s value.
The study, published in the Sept 7th Annals of Internal Medicine, used survey methods to evaluate 153 cardiology patients’ understanding of the potential benefit of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI or angioplasty). The investigators, at Baystate Medical Center in Massachusetts, compared patients’ responses to those of cardiologists who obtained consent and who performed the procedure. As outlined in the article’s introduction, PCI reduces heart attacks in patients with acute coronary syndrome — a more unstable situation than is chronic stable angina, in which case PCI relieves pain and improves quality of life but has no benefit in terms of recurrent myocardial infarction (MI) or survival.
The main result was that, after discussing the procedure with a cardiologist and signing the form, 88 percent of the patients, who almost all had chronic stable angina, believed that PCI would reduce their personal risk for having a heart attack. Only 17 percent of the cardiologists, who completed surveys about these particular patients and the potential benefit of PCI for patients facing similar scenarios, indicated that PCI would reduce the likelihood of MI.
This striking difference in patients’ and doctors’ perceptions is all the more significant because 96 percent of the patients “felt that they knew why they might undergo PCI, and more than half stated that they were actively involved in the decision-making.” Read more »
It’s the great migration to digital. And as civilization makes its move, the pharmaceutical industry is trying to figure out how to reach out to physicians. Pharmaceutical reps are slowly becoming a thing of the past. Branded medication portals leave most doctors cold. Email outreach is marginal.
Pharma strategists ask me how to reach doctors in the new world. I don’t have an answer. It isn’t that I can’t come up with an answer. It’s just that a good one doesn’t exist. Why?
Doctors aren’t anywhere right now. They’re stuck somewhere between the analog and digital. Socially they’re nebulous. Their virtual communities are non-existent. Public social networks are sparsely populated. When they participate they watch and rarely create or discuss. Our profession is going through a lot right now and it’s evident in anemic digital adoption. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*
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