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Independent Peer-Reviewed Scientific Journals: Just How Independent Are They?

On September 27, 2010, the peer-reviewed scientific journal Europace published online-before-print a case report entitled “Spontaneous explosion of implantable cardioverter-defibrillator” by Martin Hudec and Gabriela Kaliska. In the pdf of that case report a figure containing a color photo of the affected patient’s chest, chest X-ray, and two pictures of the extracted device (one seen here) were included.

The pictures and case presentation were dramatic and the case very rare. Both were perfect reasons to report such an important case to the medical literature. And so these doctors sent the case to Europace on June 29, 2010, and the article was accepted after revision on August 16, 2010, with the article appearing online September 27, 2010.

The authors must have felt very proud to have an article published relatively quickly, and the editors and reviewers of Europace must have thought the case was unique enough and important enough to have the article revised according to their specifications, then published online — until I reported the case on this blog on October 5, 2010, and included images from a portion of the case report’s figure.

Remarkably, later that same day, Europace removed the case report from its website without comment. The article simply vanished. I attempted to e-mail the editor of Europace to inquire about the reason for the retraction but received no reply, so I contacted the lead author, Martin Hudec, M.D. He kindly responded and I included his email response in the comments to my post two days later. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

More Doctors Are Refusing Industry Perks And Gifts

Christmas present by the Italian voice via FlickrPhysicians and particularly primary care doctors are reporting fewer industry ties than five years ago, according to a survey.

While 94% of doctors reported some type of perk from a drug or device maker in 2004, 83.8% did in 2009, researchers reported in the Nov. 8 Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers surveyed a stratified random sample of 2,938 primary care physicians (internal medicine, family practice, and pediatrics) and specialists (cardiology, general surgery, psychiatry and anesthesiology) with a 64.4% response rate. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

WHO And H1N1: Conflict Of Interest?

On June 11, 2009, Dr. Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), declared that the H1N1 flu that was then spreading around the world was an official pandemic. This triggered a series of built-in responses in many countries, including stockpiling anti-viral medications and preparing for a mass H1N1 vaccination program.

At the time the flu was still in its “first wave” and the fear was that subsequent waves, as the virus swept around the world, would become more virulent and/or contagious –- similar to what happened in the 1918 pandemic. This did not happen. At least our worst fears were not realized. The H1N1 pandemic, while serious, simmered through the winter of 2009-2010, producing a less than average flu season, although with some worrisome difference. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

Physician-Owned Hospitals: Preventive Medicine Instead?

With the new healthcare reform bill signed into law, the fate of physician-owned hospitals was sealed:

The bill Congress passed in March includes a ban on new physician-owned hospitals and freezes those already in business at their present size. Doctors hold a one-third interest in Avera Heart, which opened in 2001, so the bill President Obama signed would prevent that facility from ever growing.

The law change, in effect, leaves expansion of treatment of cardiovascular disease open for Sanford to dominate locally in coming years — if in fact that field of medicine grows. Avera Heart says such growth is not a given, because people are living healthier and have less need for emergency care. (Argus Leader)

While it’s easy to point to the potential conflict of interest inherent to physician-owned medical facilities, it’s not so easy to demonstrate that non-physician-owned hospitals don’t have similar conflicts with generating profits. After all, continuing to build large $78 million expansions requires hospitals of any kind to achieve a return on their investment in order to continue operations. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

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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