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Latest Posts

Taking The Mystery Out Of Clinical Trials

About 10 days ago I appeared in Phoenix as a speaker at a regional education seminar put on by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. My topic was sharing my experience as a participant in a clinical trial. I was delighted to do so, as I feel that trial saved my life and restored me to good health.

I am hoping my words encouraged others to consider being in a trial. There are no guarantees of the result, but trials are always worth considering. Unfortunately, few patients do. That may limit their choices and certainly holds back research that could help others. What a shame.

Clinical trials are defined as human subject research. It is through these trials that we determine if new drugs or devices can better serve patients than what is currently available. Clinical trials are available for almost every disease — although finding these trials can be challenging. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

Herbal Remedy For UTI? If You’re A Lab Rat, Maybe

Lab ratA patient came into the office the other day carrying a small clipping from a reputable women’s health newsletter touting new research on an herbal remedy for urinary tract infection. Having recurrent bladder infections, my patient naturally was wondering if this was something she should try.

The article was entitled “Herbal Remedy Effective for Urinary Tract Infections” and began with this startling revelation:

The common herbal extract forskolin can greatly reduce urinary tract infections and could potentially help antibiotics kill the bacteria that cause most bladder infections. 

But the article advised that the “popular” remedy was not FDA approved for this indication, so you should “ask your doctor.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog that Ate Manhattan*

The “File Drawer” Effect: Failure To Publish Negative Studies

A new study published in PLOS Biology looks at the potential magnitude and effect of publication bias in animal trials. Essentially, the authors conclude that there is a significant file drawer effect –- failure to publish negative studies -– with animal studies and this impacts the translation of animal research to human clinical trials.

SBM is greatly concerned with the technology of medical science. On one level, the methods of individual studies need to be closely analyzed for rigor and bias. But we also go to great pains to dispel the myth that individual studies can tell us much about the practice of medicine.

Reliable conclusions come from interpreting the literature as a whole, and not just individual studies. Further, the whole of the literature is greater than the sum of individual studies –- there are patterns and effects in the literature itself that need to be considered.

One big effect is the file drawer effect, or publication bias –- the tendency to publish positive studies more than negative studies. A study showing that a treatment works or has potential is often seen as doing more for the reputation of a journal and the careers of the scientists than negative studies. So studies with no measurable effect tend to languish unpublished. Read more »

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

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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