Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Understanding Risk Related To Outdoor Health

Dr. Robert “Brownie” Schoene, an enormously talented, accomplished, and insightful physician who resides within the bedrock of wilderness medicine, gave a wonderful presentation about the concept of risk at the 2010 annual summer meeting of the Wilderness Medical Society. Risk is inherent in outdoor activities, whether it is part of exploration, adventure, science, or industry. I am going to summarize his approach to the topic, which is among the most important general concepts in the field, and editorialize with some of my thoughts.

When one thinks of risk related to outdoor health, it is about the possibility of suffering harm, damage, or loss. When a person is aware of the possibility of a specific risk, he or she usually weighs the risk against the possible benefits. When you hike on a slippery, snowy trail in early spring, where the trail winds over patches of ice near ledges from which a fall would cause a severe injury, is the experience worth the risk? When you ride a wave on your surfboard when the waves are intimidating and you are outside your comfort zone, is the improvement in performance worth the possibility of a tumble and possible muscle tear or broken bone? Sometimes the answer is easy. When I travel to a third world country, I always run the risk of acquiring infectious diarrhea. The benefits of the mission supersede the discomfort, and I both anticipate the risk and prepare for treatment by carrying oral rehydration supplies and appropriate antibiotics.

I love the quote from Winston Churchill that Dr. Schoene used to illustrate a risk-taker’s approach: Read more »

This post, Understanding Risk Related To Outdoor Health, was originally published on Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Complications Associated With The Rescue Of Injured Persons In Isolated Environments

Mountains by the ocean in Antarctica.Isolated environments combined with austere circumstances sometimes call for extraordinary measures, and in particular call for planning in advance for situations of multi-casualty incidents. Many, if not most, austere settings are in outdoor or frankly wilderness settings. Anyone who spends considerable time in the outdoors is going to sooner or later encounter a group of individuals in need of assistance in a setting of limited resources. This could be a scout troop suffering sunburn, multiple persons stung by a swarm of bees, a group of people struck by lightning, or a carful of people in a vehicle swamped and trapped in a flood. A winter camping expedition might be overcome by an unanticipated storm that generates victims of hypothermia. At the ends of the earth, the risks may be greater and multiplied by the very difficult logistics of rescue and evacuation.

Christopher Mills, MD and colleagues recently published a very interesting article entitled “Mass Casualty Incident Response and Aeromedical Evacuation in Antarctica” (Western Journal of Medicine 2011;12(1):37-42). This excellent review addresses the complications of multiple environmental and operational challenges, and highlights that Read more »

This post, Complications Associated With The Rescue Of Injured Persons In Isolated Environments, was originally published on Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all book reviews »