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Latest Posts

Reducing The Use Of CT Scans In Children

Well, this is satisfying. Over the years, in our ER we have mirrored the nationwide trend and have significantly increased the utilization of CT scans across the board. The reasons are manifold. Some cite malpractice risks, and indeed in our large group we have had one lawsuit for a pediatric head injury and another for a missed appendicitis which probably did contribute. But, in my opinion, there have been many other drivers of the increased use. For one, CTs have gotten way, way better over the last 15 years, which quite simply has made them a better diagnostic tool. They’ve also gotten way faster. As the facilities have invested in CT scanners, they have increased their capacity and increased their staffing, so the barriers to their use have rapidly diminished. I am so old that I remember when ordering a CT involved calling a radiologist and getting their approval! No more of that, I can tell you.

But a couple of years ago, we really started paying attention (perhaps belatedly) to Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*

When You Don’t Live Near A Trauma Center…

Years ago I had a conversation with a surgeon at our facility.  He was unhappy that a seriously injured trauma patient came to our facility after a MVC.  ‘These patients shouldn’t come here Ed, they should go to a trauma center!’

Fair enough; we aren’t a trauma center.  Not a Level I, not a Level II or III; not even a level 0.5!  But we are the only hospital in a large rural county, and the closest, largest facility for portions of a few other counties nearby.  The nearest hospital with neurosurgery and thoracic surgery is at least 30 minutes further away.

The problem is, torn blood vessels, crushed spleens,  collapsed lungs, swollen brains don’t look at the clock, and cars aren’t designed to wreck only near trauma centers, any  more than assailants shoot and stab people only within proximity of appropriate care.  (It rather defeats the purpose of attempted murder, you know. )

Recently, my partner had the same conversation with the same surgeon.  The patient had been shot twice and was hypotensive.  ‘These patients shouldn’t come here!’   We understand, the conditions may not be ideal and trauma is, to be quite honest, fraught with medical and legal peril. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

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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