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Fourth Of July: Top Tips For Fireworks Safety

As the 4th of July approaches, I’ve begun to hear fireworks exploding in my neighborhood.  It’s been dry here, so in addition to the risk of injuring a person, there is a risk of setting the fields on fire.  I sure hope my neighbors are being responsible.

I hope you will all have a safe and happy July 4th.  Be safe and stay out of the ER.

Please use the following tips:

  • Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks.  A responsible adult should be in charge.
  • Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
  • Be sure other people are out-of-range before lighting fireworks. Small children should be kept a safe distance from the fireworks; older children that use fireworks need to be carefully supervised.
  • Do not smoke when handling any type of “live” firecracker, rocket, or aerial display.
  • Keep all fireworks away from any flammable liquids, dry grassy areas, or open bonfires.
  • Keep a bucket of water or working garden hose nearby in case of a malfunction or fire.
  • Take note of any sudden wind change that could cause sparks or debris to fall on a car, house, or person. Read more »

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

Watchful Waiting Or Active Surveillance: When Delaying Treatment Offers Better Outcomes

In today’s fast-paced world, waiting — whether it’s at the doctor’s office, in line at the grocery store or for an Internet connection — is rarely considered a good thing.

But when it comes to certain medical conditions, delaying treatment while regularly monitoring the progress of disease — a strategy doctors refer to as “watchful waiting,” active surveillance or expectant management — may benefit some patients more than a rush to pharmaceutical or surgical options.

Patients want to know what they’re waiting for, says urologic oncologist E. David Crawford, MD, chairman of the Prostate Conditions Education Council and associate director of the University of Colorado Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The purpose is to watch in order to see whether a condition progresses. That way, patients and physicians know what kind of threat a disorder poses and they can make a better decision about how urgently treatment is needed.  Some people might never need treatment, for instance with a slow-growing cancer. Other people can delay treatment for months or years.

Precancerous conditions may also be monitored with active surveillance. One example is Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Prepared Patient Forum: What It Takes Blog*

Healthcare Regulations Gone Wild

We certainly have seen regulations upon regulations appear for health care over the past several years, and this letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal (1 June 2011) from the Commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Nancy A. Nord, should cause us all to pause:

As a commissioner at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), I can attest that no such (regulatory reform) activity is happening at this agency. We certainly have not combed through our regulations to eliminate those that are “out-of-date, unnecessary, [or] excessively burdensome,” as he suggests is being done across the government. Instead, we are regulating at an unprecedented pace and have pretty much abandoned any efforts to weigh societal benefits from regulations with the costs imposed on the public.

In health care, we have seen an unprecedented rise in regulations for in-hospital MRSA screening while little data have been forthcoming about its patient benefits. Doctors are under increased administrative burdens to complete Pay for Performance questionnaires without any evidence of their benefit to patients. Read more »

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

iPhone App Can Substitute For Expensive Pulse Oximeter

The Electrical and Computer Engineering in Medicine (ECEM) research group in collaboration with the Pediatric Anesthesia Research Team (PART) at the University of British Columbia have developed a mobile solution to measuring key vital signs — called the “Phone Oximeter”.

The Phone Oximeter uses a traditional FDA approved pulse oximetry sensor, but researchers have modified it to interface with a phone, in this case, your iPhone. Currently the setup is being interfaced with an iPhone for trial studies, but is compatible with Android, and other mobile operating systems.

What makes the Phone Oximeter special is its ability to capture SpO2 (blood oxygen saturation), heart rate, and respiratory rate — then dynamically comprehend the variables using the decision support software, giving medical staff or even laymen individuals key help in making decisions on medical care.

So how would a device like this be useful in the medical setting? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

Calcium Supplements: Good For Your Bones But Bad For Your Heart?

Calcium is good for us, right? Milk products are great sources of calcium, and we’re told to emphasize milk products in our diets. Don’t (or can’t) eat enough dairy? Calcium supplements are very popular, especially among women seeking to minimize their risk of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis prevention and treatment guidelines recommend calcium and vitamin D as an important measure in preserving bone density and reducing the risk of fractures. For those who don’t like dairy products, even products like orange juice and Vitamin Water are fortified with calcium. The general perception seemed to be that calcium consumption was a good thing – the more, the better. Until recently.

In a pattern similar to that I described with folic acid, there’s new safety signals from trials with calcium supplements that are raising concerns. Two studies published in the past two years suggest that calcium supplements are associated with a significantly increased risk of heart attacks. Could the risks of calcium supplements outweigh any benefits they offer? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Science-Based Medicine*

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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