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Latest Posts

Patients Are Rejecting Valuable Treatment Based On False Information

Newsweek has a very provocative and yet incredibly too simplistic piece for the public and patients on its cover story – One Word Can Save Your Life: No! – New research shows how some common tests and procedures aren’t just expensive, but can do more harm than good.

The piece is actually well written and highlights facts that have been apparent for some time.  More intervention and treatment isn’t necessarily better.  Having a cardiac catheterization or open heart surgery for patients with stable heart disease and mild chest pain isn’t better than diet, exercise, and the prescription medication treatment.  PSA, the blood test previously suggested by many professional organizations, isn’t helpful to screen for prostate cancer, even though the value of the test was questioned years ago.  Antibiotics for sinus infection?  Usually not helpful.

Certainly doctors do bear part of the blame.  If patients are Read more »

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

The Globe’s Health Champions

Newsweek published an interesting and interactive infographic showing the rankings of countries based on different parameters such as quality of life, education, and health. Regarding the healthcare system, guess which country is in the first place?

Here’s the top 10:

1. Japan
2. Switzerland
3. Sweden
4. Spain
5. Italy
6. Australia
7. Singapore
8. Norway
9. New Zealand
10. The Netherlands

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

The “DNA Dilemma”

Mary Carmichael of Newsweek had a great series of articles focusing on direct-to-consumer genetic testing. An excerpt:

I’ve been following DTC genetics since 2007, when wide scanning first became available to the public. Since then, a number of writers have gotten wide-scale genetic tests and expounded on the results. Indeed, I sometimes wonder if I’m the last science reporter on earth with virgin genes. (Technical virgin: My doctor gave me a cystic fibrosis carrier test when I was pregnant.) Initially, I put off getting a full-genome scan because I wasn’t sure how useful such a test would be. I had no particular reason to take one, save curiosity. I wouldn’t expect to find anything serious and potentially life-altering like the Huntington’s disease gene in my results, because my family medical history is thankfully rather boring. The data most likely to be medically relevant to me would concern the genetics of common diseases, and at the time, many comprehensive and well-designed studies of those were still getting underway. I decided to wait a few years and see how research progressed. But here I am, three years later, still unsure.

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

Why Primary Care Doctors Leave

There’s little question that the workplace environment for doctors is deteriorating. Especially in primary care, where physicians are arguably needed the most.

That’s why is so disheartening to read this Newsweek essay from pediatrician Karen Li, explaining why she left the field. Much of her piece can be attributed to the bad old days of managed care, where doctors were frustrated by the bureaucratic impediments placed before them. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

Unnecessary Medical Care: Consumers Are A “Powerful Force,” Too

One of the points of contention in healthcare reform is whether it will do enough to control costs. Forget about the Congressional Budget Office’s optimistic outlook, as it discounts the Medicare “doc fix,” which, when factored in, will erase any supposed deficit reduction.

Reform doesn’t do very much to change the underlying structure of our health system, which continues to pay more for quantity of medical services, rather than shift the focus to value and quality.

Sharon Begley, writing in Newsweek, offers some sensible suggestions on what we can do control costs. Better incorporating the best clinical evidence into their medical decisions would help. She cites the continued, and possibly unnecessary, use of back surgery, knee surgery, vertebroplasties, and angioplasties, despite mounting evidence that they’re being overused. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

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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