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Less-Invasive Science: Not Always Better Science

One of the disturbing trends I have been observing in physiology is the tendency to move away from many of the gold standard, invasive measurements classically described in the scientific literature to non-invasive measures which may or may not accurately reflect the parameter of interest.

One of these non-invasive measurements (which is not used in any of the manuscripts on my desk) that has become the bane of my existence is to use the saturation of hemoglobin in arterial blood (SPO2) as a surrogate for the partial pressure of arterial blood (PO2). SPO2 is measured with a device called a pulse oximeter.

Pulse oximeter

 Figure 1: A fingertip pulse oximeter. This device indicates that this individuals arterial hemoglobin is 98 percent saturated and his heart rate is 73 beats/min. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess*

Underwear 2.0: The Military’s Vital-Monitoring Briefs

You just can’t make this stuff up:

The underwear project, spearheaded by the nanoengineering professor, was funded by the U.S. military and its effectiveness will likely be tested on the battlefield.

“This specific project involves monitoring the injury of soldiers during battlefield surgery,” Wang told Reuters. “The goal is to develop minimally invasive sensors that can locate, in the field, and identify the type of injury.”

Ultimately, the waistband sensors will be able to direct the release of drugs to treat the wounded soldier.

I wonder what other creative uses our men in uniform will find for this? I can hear it now: “It’s not the size of the device, honey, it’s the metronome that’s in it!” (Heh.)

-WesMusings of a cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist.

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

I’m Your Doctor, And I’m Worth It

Rx Vending MachineI saw the note on the patient’s chart before I opened the door: “Patient is upset that he had to come in.”

I opened the door and was greeted by a gentleman with his arms crossed tightly across his chest and a stern expression. I barely recognized him, having only seen him a handful of times over the past few years. Scrawled on the patient history sheet in the space for the reason for his visit were the words, “Because I was forced to come in.”

My stomach churned. I opened his chart and looked at his problem list, which included high blood pressure and high cholesterol –- both treated with medications. He was last in my office in November — of 2008. I blinked, looked up at his scowling face, and frowned back. ”You haven’t been in the office for over 18 months. It was really time for you to come in,” I said, trying to remain calm as I spoke.

He sat for a moment, then responded with very little emotion. “I’m doing fine. You could’ve just ordered my labs and called in my prescriptions. I don’t know why I had to be seen.” Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

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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