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Why Are Antibiotics Prescribed So Casually And So Frequently?

A good friend of mine and Whistleblower reader contracted the sniffles and received a prescription for antibiotics at a local urgent care center. Nothing newsworthy here. So far this quotidian event sounds like a ‘dog bites man’ story. Had antibiotics been denied, this would have been ‘man bites dog’, as this denial would be a radical departure of standard medical practice, particularly in the urgent care universe.

No doubt, my friend was not assigned the dismissive diagnosis of ‘the sniffles’, but was likely given a more ominous diagnosis of ‘acute upper respiratory infection’, a term that sounds so serious that he might have feared that a 911 call had already been made.

Why are antibiotics prescribed so casually and so frequently? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at MD Whistleblower*

Video Outlines Testing For Reflux Or Abnormal Esophageal Muscle Activity

Our office has created a new video describing what a patient goes through when they undergo esophageal manometry as well as 24 hour multi-channel pH and impedance testing.

This test is often ordered when a patient is suspected to be suffering from reflux, whether acid or non-acid, or is possibly suffering from abnormal muscle activity of the esophagus.

Symptoms that a patient may experience that may lead to such testing include: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Fauquier ENT Blog*

Why Do Physicians Conduct Complete Physical Exams When You Have A Localized Complaint?

One June 20, 2011, NPR aired a great story about how a person may not “see” a person getting beat up on the side of a jogging path when they are focused on a task (pursuing another jogger)… even if they pass RIGHT BY THE FIGHT!!!

In fact, only a third of the subjects reported seeing this mock fight when the experiment was conducted at night. Even more surprisingly, broad daylight didn’t improve the statistics (only 40% noticed the fight).

Though the situation and circumstances do not exactly correspond, there is a lesson to be learned here that applies to a medical visit.

As an ENT, I often see patients for a very specific complaint…

“My right ear hurts.”
“I have a bad cough.”

No matter what the complaint, unless it is for a specific task (there is earwax… can you remove it), I most always still do a complete ear, nose, and throat exam no matter the complaint.

Why??? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Fauquier ENT Blog*

Vitamin D For COPD: Why That Won’t Be Enough

I am frequently extolling the health benefits of Vitamin D because almost weekly there is a new study that correlates high vitamin D levels with reducing some disease.  The latest is from the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine and research shows that high doses of vitamin D supplementation improved respiratory muscle strength in patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).  The patients that did not receive supplemental vitamin D had blood levels of 22.8 compared to 53.8 in the supplemented group.  The patients who were supplemented had improved respiratory function, strength and less shortness of breath.  It certainly didn’t cure or reverse COPD but the improvement was an encouraging trend in this terrible chronic disease.

In reading about this it got me thinking about COPD and the fact that it is one of the most common reasons for hospitalization and disability in the United States. It is a progressive disease that affects the alveoli (small air sacs that exchange oxygen) and small bronchioles of the lungs.  These airways and air sacs lose their elastic quality and become thick and inflamed.  Mucus forms and patients become progressively short of breath and eventually need supplemental oxygen just to breathe.  COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.

Did you know that most COPD is caused by Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Can You Diagnose A Cough By Its Sound?

DiscoveryNews is reporting on a Bedford, Massachusetts company developing software that can detect the difference between a typical cough and one caused by a cold, flu, COPD, or a number of other respiratory diseases. STAR Analytical Services is working with a database of pre-recorded coughs to determine signatures that point to underlying conditions.

The final 100 to 150 milliseconds of the cough contains the distinctive sounds that could help doctors and nurses remotely diagnose a cough as the common cold or more serious pneumonia.

Even with a limited amount of data, scientists can distinguish between a healthy, voluntary cough and the involuntary cough of a sick person. Healthy people have slightly louder coughs, about 2 percent louder than a sick person. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

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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