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Handling One’s Emotions In A Survival Situation

Perhaps the greatest thrill in attending a summer meeting of the Wilderness Medical Society (WMS) is listening to new, enthusiastic and exciting speakers. They bring new insights and opinions to numerous topics and discussions, which is an essential part of the educational process. This past summer, at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the WMS held in Snowmass, Colorado, Dr. Drew Watters from the Indiana University School of Medicine approached the audience with his observations about neurobiology and survival. It was an innovative approach to a very common topic within wilderness medicine. How does one account for and handle emotions in a time of stress, including the most stressful situation of all—namely, a survival situation? When is it better to think, rather than to react? The objectives of his presentation were to understand to a certain extent survival, the anatomy of thought and perception, the neurobiology of emotions, behavior, emotive and cognitive decisions, and implementation of interventions in situations dominated by emotion.

Anyone who has practiced wilderness medicine knows that bad things happen, sometimes despite the best preparations and intentions. People make bad decisions that can too often be characterized as dumb. If they follow with more bad decisions, the situation Read more »

This post, Handling One’s Emotions In A Survival Situation, was originally published on by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Patient Inaction Can Hurt Their Families Too

Dr. Mehmet Oz recently had a piece in Time titled “What I Learned from My Cancer Scare” in which he became the the more humbled Mr. Mehmet Oz.  As noted previously here, Dr. Oz last summer had a colonoscopy at age 50 and much to everyone’s surprise had a precancerous colon polyp.  He was advised to follow-up again for a repeat test in 3 months.

As the Time magazine piece noted, he didn’t return for 9 months despite repeated reminders from his doctor.

From this experience, he essentially stumbled upon what has been challenging American medicine and primary care.  How do we enable patients to do the right thing and get the screening tests done and treatments necessary to avoid premature death and maintain a high quality of life?  As a highly trained professional, Dr. Oz knows the risks and benefits of not doing a preventive screening test.  As a doctor, he knows all of the secret protocols and codespeak we use when calling patients or asking them to see us in the office for important matters.  As a doctor, he also understood the importance of a repeat colonoscopy to ensure no more colon growths.

Yet he didn’t return for 9 months.  Why? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis*

Mood Scores: Which Day Of The Week Has The Lowest Rating?

You know that 1979 Boomtown Rats song, “I Don’t Like Mondays.” (This Youtube music video features a very young-looking Bob Geldof.)  The song is about the 1979 shooting spree on a Monday morning at a San Diego elementary school. The shooter’s only state reason for doing it was that she didn’t like Mondays.

The silicon chip inside her head
Gets switched to overload
And nobody’s gonna go to school today
She’s gonna make them stay at home

It turns out that — contrary to popular impression that Mondays are the worst day of the week — Tuesdays are the worst day of the week.  According to a piece by Chris Hall (@hallicious) on HealthCentral, Tuesdays are the worst day of the week (moodwise) while Sundays are the best. This is based on mood rating scores from 500 users of the Mood 24/7 service, which HealthCentral licenses from Johns Hopkins University. After you sign up for the free service, the software sends you a text message at random times, and you text back your mood rating for that day.

So, you’d think that the latest date of the coming apocalypse, October 21, might be on a Tuesday. But it’s not — it’s on a Friday.  Maybe it will get moved again.—–

*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*

The Right To Mourn

Grief and lossI seem to have had a run on bereavement recently, in that I’ve had several patients who have lost loved ones. Some have wound up in my office for unrelated complaints, only to have the grief spill out. I’ve become aware of the struggles of others via Facebook.

I’ve found this handout (from Family Practice Management several years ago) to be very useful. I keep copies in my office and hand them out when needed, but it occurs to me that having another way to disseminate this helpful information would be a good idea. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Dinosaur*

One Doctor’s ER Game Face

I’m going to make a button to wear at work. t’ll say “I’m really only a dick at work”.

I’ve written before about my ‘game face‘ and how it’s not me, not really.  It’s a Business Me, and it’s how I get through life at work.

(Is that a cop-out? Do I do it because it makes me more efficient, a better doctor, smoother, faster, or do I do it because it builds a bit of a wall between me and my real self and lets me get through the day without getting emotionally attached to every patient and their family?) Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at GruntDoc*

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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