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Texting While Driving: “It’s Like Everybody’s Drunk” Or Worse

A mentor recently mentioned in passing that he stopped riding motorcycle when cellphones came out, as he noticed the average driver distraction level had gone way up. He said, “It’s like everybody’s drunk.”

There’s lots of ways to be an impaired driver: Physical or mental fatigue, chemicals (legal and not), emotional extremes, etc. (This is not an exhaustive list). What I want to focus on here is a very controllable risk factor: Divided attention.

A quick Internet search turned up some original research from Car and Driver on the subject of texting while driving compared with actual alcohol-impaired driving, and the results are shockingly worse than I would have thought. From their (admittedly limited but well done) study, texting is way worse than being at the legal alcohol limit when it comes to both reading and writing. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at GruntDoc*

Dr. Frank Ryan’s Death: What We Can Learn From It

I’ll be honest — I’d never heard of Dr. Frank Ryan, a Hollywood plastic surgeon, until his tragic motor vehicle accident recently. Clients included actress Heidi Montag and boxer Oscar De La Hoya.

Although the California Highway Patrol investigation isn’t complete, rumors have suggested that Dr. Ryan may have been text messaging when driving. If this is true and an intelligent, well-trained doctor can fall prey to the allure of technology, then what does it mean for the rest of us?

First, realize that we can’t multitask. You have one brain. You can focus at one task at a time. Though laws allow hands-free cellphone calls, the issue isn’t trying to dial the phone but rather that the mind is engaged in the conversation and not on the road. Yes, we are all increasingly busy, but we can’t multitask. In fact, researchers have found that it takes more time and effort to refocus when we are distracted from one task to the other. Read more »

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

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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