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Pregnant Female Prisoners Must Remain In Shackles During C-Section Procedures?

“But for the grace of God go I.” My late aunt drilled that value into my six-year old head and it has never left. An article regarding a New York politician recently caught my attention. When New York State enacted a bill to ban the shackling of pregnant prisoners, a New York State Assemblywoman objected. The article goes on to discuss the case of Jeanna M. Graves, who, in 2002 was arrested on a drug charge and began a three year sentence. Graves was pregnant with twins and while in labor, was handcuffed during her entire C. Section. How utterly ridiculous.

Before a C. Section begins, a patient is usually given either an epidural or spinal anesthesia. On rare occasions, she is put to sleep with general anesthesia if the baby must be delivered emergently. On all accounts, the patient’s legs will either be numb from anesthesia or she will be sleeping. Why then does she need shackles? She’s certainly not in a position to run. Although I addressed this issue last August, it needs to be revisited again. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway*

What’s Fueling Technological Advances? A Free Market

So I have a Droid.  I purchased it in July, not long after taking my old flip-phone for an oceanic bath at Hilton Head, SC.  I waffled for a long time.  In fact, I almost purchased a Casio phone that was marketed as water and impact resistant.  ‘Mil-spec,’ was the phrase used…a phrase which appeals to me as a one-time Air-Guard flight surgeon.  What it meant to me was, ‘you can’t hurt it.’

Still, I was attracted by medical applications and the assorted other cool things a Droid can do.  I mean, my old phone didn’t have a Magic 8 Ball, for crying out loud!  More to the point, my old phone didn’t have Epocrates, or the Emergency Medicine Residents Association Guide to Antibiotic Therapy.  It lacked a flashlight, an mp-3 player, a protractor and a scientific calculator.  (It also weighed a fraction of my Droid, but that’s what belts are for). On my old phone, I couldn’t have taken a photo of an ECG, turned it into a pdf file, and e-mailed it to our fax-impaired cardiologist. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at edwinleap.com*

Do Democrats And Republicans Have Different Work Out Regimens?

In Washington, even exercise gets political.

This morning, the WSJ reported that a small group of Congressmen, primarily Republicans, have embraced the adrenaline-infused exercise regimen that is P90X. They jump, stretch and flex to the tune of Tony Horton, a man who clearly checked the right box on career day. The 90-day results-intensive program celebrates its “I couldn’t move the next day” sensations.

On the other side of the ideological spectrum resides the pragmatic approach of the White House. Last month, the NY Times described the regimented, non-boot-campish routine espoused by Mr and Mrs Obama. Our current executive branch favors a personal trainer who likes working people hard, but…”as politely as possible.”  The president adheres to a common sense program of regular morning exercises that balances cardio and strength training. Calm, measured and balanced.

Both approaches to exercise appeal to me. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

Why Does The US Spend So Much On Healthcare?

Today the Commonwealth Fund came out with a chart that it says is a “grim reminder” of what happens when health care doesn’t get reformed.

If only we had listened to Richard Nixon or Jimmy Carter.  We would have saved tens of trillions of dollars in health care spending.

Click to enlarge Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

Politicians Should Learn From Health Benefits Managers

Barely a week after Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said he wants state controls on the price of health insurance, President Obama apparently wants to do the same at the federal level.  Both men must believe it’s good politics, because there are about 4,000 years of evidence that it’s not good policy.

But the trouble for reformers has never really been about policy.  It’s been about a fundamental misunderstanding of how people view health care and the very bad things that happen when you give people the impression you’re going to mess with what they have.

In this sense, the reform bills are like perpetual anxiety machines.  Contraptions that continually produce more public anxiety than they consume.

But why is this?

Well one of the surest ways to create anxiety in someone is to make them feel uncertain about something important to them.  It’s one reason why companies suffer from problems with morale in tough economic times.  If a company doesn’t level with its employees about what’s happening, smart employees start to assume it must be because the news is bad.  Otherwise, why wouldn’t the management come out and explain that everything is ok? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

Latest Interviews

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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How To Make Inpatient Medical Practice Fun Again: Try Locum Tenens Work

It s no secret that most physicians are unhappy with the way things are going in healthcare. Surveys report high levels of job dissatisfaction burn out and even suicide. In fact some believe that up to a third of the US physician work force is planning to leave the profession…

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Latest Cartoon

Richmond, VA – In an effort to simplify inpatient medical billing, one area hospitalist group has determined that “altered mental status” (ICD-9 780.97) is the most efficient code for use in any patient work up.

“When you enter a hospital, you’re bound to have some kind of mental status change,” said Dr. Fishbinder, co-partner of Area Hospitalists, PLLC. “Whether it’s confusion about where your room is located in relationship to the visitor’s parking structure, frustration with being woken up every hour or two to check your vital signs, or just plain old fatigue from being sick, you are not thinking as clearly as before you were admitted. And that’s all the justification we need to order anything from drug and toxin screens, to blood cultures, brain MRIs, tagged red blood cell nuclear scans, or cardiac Holter monitoring. There really is no limit to what we can pursue with our tests.”

Common causes of mental status changes in the elderly include medicine-induced cognitive side effects, disorientation due to disruption in daily routines, age-related memory impairment, and urinary tract infections.

“The urinalysis is not a very exciting medical test,” stated Dr. Fishbinder. “It doesn’t matter that it’s cheap, fast, and most likely to provide an explanation for strange behavior in hospitalized patients. It’s really not as elegant as the testing involved in a chronic anemia or metabolic encephalopathy work up. I keep it in my back pocket in case all other tests are negative, including brain MRIs and PET scans.”

Nursing staff at Richmond Medical Hospital report that efforts to inform hospitalists about foul smelling urine have generally fallen on deaf ears. “I have tried to tell the hospitalists about cloudy or bloody urine that I see in patients who are undergoing extensive work ups for mental status changes,” reports nurse Sandy Anderson. “But they insist that ‘all urine smells bad’ and it’s really more of a red herring.”

Another nurse reports that delay in diagnosing urinary tract infections (while patients are scheduled for brain MRIs, nuclear scans, and biopsies) can lead to worsening symptoms which accelerate and expand testing. “Some of my patients are transferred to the ICU during the altered mental status work up,” states nurse Anita Misra. “The doctors seem to be very excited about the additional technology available to them in the intensive care setting. Between the central line placement, arterial blood gasses, and vast array of IV fluid and medication options, urosepsis is really an excellent entré into a whole new level of care.”

“As far as medicine-induced mental status changes are concerned,” added Dr. Fishbinder, “We’ve never seen a single case in the past 10 years. Today’s patients are incredibly resilient and can tolerate mixes of opioids, anti-depressants, anti-histamines, and benzodiazepines without any difficulty. We know this because most patients have been prescribed these cocktails and have been taking them for years.”

Patient family members have expressed gratitude for Dr. Fishbinder’s diagnostic process, and report that they are very pleased that he is doing everything in his power to “get to the bottom” of why their loved one isn’t as sharp as they used to be.

“I thought my mom was acting strange ever since she started taking stronger pain medicine for her arthritis,” says Nelly Hurtong, the daughter of one of Dr. Fishbinder’s inpatients. “But now I see that there are deeper reasons for her ‘altered mental status’ thanks to the brain MRI that showed some mild generalized atrophy.”

Hospital administrators praise Dr. Fishbinder as one of their top physicians. “He will do whatever it takes to figure out the true cause of patients’ cognitive impairments.” Says CEO, Daniel Griffiths. “And not only is that good medicine, it is great for our Press Ganey scores and our bottom line.”

As for the nursing staff, Griffiths offered a less glowing review. “It’s unfortunate that our nurses seem preoccupied with urine testing and medication reconciliation. I think it might be time for us to mandate further training to help them appreciate more of the medical nuances inherent in quality patient care.”

Dr. Fishbinder is in the process of creating a half-day seminar on ‘altered mental status in the inpatient setting,’ offering CME credits to physicians who enroll. Richmond Medical Hospital intends to sponsor Dr. Fishbinder’s course, and franchise it to other hospitals in the state, and ultimately nationally.

***

Click here for a musical take on over-testing.

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Latest Book Reviews

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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Unaccountable: A Book About The Underbelly Of Hospital Care

I met Dr. Marty Makary over lunch at Founding Farmers restaurant in DC about three years ago. We had an animated conversation about hospital safety the potential contribution of checklists to reducing medical errors and his upcoming book about the need for more transparency in the healthcare system. Marty was…

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