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Latest Posts

“Simple Blood Test” For Cancer: Breakthrough Or Nightmare?

That’s the question Dartmouth’s Dr. Gil Welch asks in a column on the CNN website. He reflects on [recent] news about a test in development that might find a single cancer cell among a billion healthy ones — as so many news stories framed it. Welch analyzes:

“But it’s not that simple. The test could just as easily start a cancer epidemic.

Most assume there are no downsides to looking for things to be wrong. But the truth is that early diagnosis is a double-edged sword. While it has the potential to help some, it always has a hidden side-effect: overdiagnosis, the detection of abnormalities that are not destined to ever bother people in their lifetime.

Becoming a patient unnecessarily has real human costs. There’s the anxiety of being told you are somehow not healthy. There’s the problem that getting a diagnosis may affect your ability to get health insurance. There are the headaches of renewing prescriptions, scheduling appointments and keeping them. Finally, there are the physical harms of treatments that cannot help (because there is nothing to fix): drug side-effects, surgical complications and even death. Not to mention it can bankrupt you.

Americans don’t need more diagnoses, they need the right diagnoses.

I don’t know whether this test will help some patients. It might, but it will take years to figure that out. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

Liposuction-Related Death And Finding A Safe Doctor

From the Chicago Tribune:

A 35-year-old woman who wanted to resculpt herself for the new year with liposuction and a buttocks enhancement is dead from apparent complications of plastic surgery, her husband and lawyer said Thursday. Miami customer service representative Lidvian Zelaya died Monday, hours after the operation began at Strax Rejuvenation and Aesthetics Institute, a busy cosmetic surgery practice in Lauderhill. Zelaya went to Strax to have fat suctioned from her back and belly, and to have the material injected into her backside, family representatives said. She chose Strax because she got a good deal. Aronfeld said the operation was to be done by Dr. Roger L. Gordon. He was disciplined by the state in connection with two plastic surgery deaths in 2004.

This is getting ridiculous. Liposuction deaths have been frequent in the media as of late. And this surgeon, Roger L. Gordon, M.D., is a real, board-certified plastic surgeon as per the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).

Then again, plastic surgery IS surgery and therefore has risk associated with it. Was this an unfortunate accident or something else? How can a potential patient choose well to limit the risk of cosmetic surgery? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Truth in Cosmetic Surgery*

Female Cosmetic Genital Surgery: Should It Be Done?

I seem to be asked more often these days if I do vulva reduction surgery. I’ve even been asked if I “refresh” vaginas (in which I refer them to their gynecologist.) I’m happy it’s a extremely small part of my practice.

I’m also happy to see that the current issue of Reproductive Health Matters is taking a close look at cosmetic surgery, especially female cosmetic genital surgery. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

When Patient Consent Goes High-Tech

What would you rather know when undergoing a surgical procedure: What are your most likely complications during the proposed surgery based on your own personal characteristics, or all of the potential complications that could arise with your upcoming surgical procedure?

Several major medical centers are betting you’d like to know your tailored personal risks. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

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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