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Latest Posts

Pap Smears for Women: New Guidelines

Right in the middle of the national firestorm about Mammogram recommendations, the American College of Gynecologists (ACOG) has issued new guidelines for screening of cervical cancer. After 40 years of successfully convincing women to get pap smears annually, the new recommendations say women should not get their first pap test until age 21 and the intervals for testing can then be stretched out.

The new recommendations say that women should start pap screening at age 21 (not teens who are sexually active as previously recommended) and then every two years through age 29. Women age 30 and over with three negative pap smears can stretch it out for three years. Women over age 65 can stop getting pap tests if their previous tests have been negative. Women who have had a hysterectomy for non-cancer reasons never need a pap smear. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

The U.S. Should Focus on Primary Care


A new study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund was published by Health Affairs and it showed that the U.S. lagged behind other nations in some very important ways that affect health and access to quality health care. The study surveryed over 10,000 primary care physicians in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The study found that:

  • The vast majority (69 percent) of U.S. respondents report that their practices have no provisions for after-hours care, leaving their patients no choice but the emergency room. The U.S. was behind every other country surveyed on this finding.

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*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Even Physicians Are Shocked By Healthcare Costs

I took my son to the ER for a broken thumb. It was a minor injury but the thumb is the most important digit on the hand. The ER care was just fine…a quick look, an Xray and a small splint. We didn’t have to wait long and everyone was courteous.

Imagine my surprise to receive the bill from the hospital. Yes, I have insurance. My out of pocket expense was minimal but here is what the insurance company was charged:

  • Hospital Misc.- $56.00 (could this be the splint?)
  • Diagnostic Xray – $342.00
  • Emergency Care- $952.00
  • Surgery – $570.00
  • Total $1920.00

Take a look…surgery? There was so surgery, no procedure. There was no break in the skin. The doctor component of the visit was about 7 minutes (mainly because I knew the doc and we chatted about politics)

This bill is unreal and is comprised of unreal health care costs. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

What’s The Most Expensive Medical Condition?

What medical condition costs the U.S. Health system the most in disability and overall costs? If you said heart disease or cancer or pulmonary disease you would be wrong! I would have said one of those myself.

The answer…slow drumroll….is musculoskeletal disease. Yes, 50% of the adult population reported having a disabling musculoskeletal condition in 2008. The expenditures for these problems include the costs of preventive care, the cost of direct care, the cost of care in hospitals, by physicians, therapists and other caregivers. It also includes the loss of productivity. In 2004 it was estimated that the cost of care for musculoskeletal problems was $840 billion. (Hey, isn’t that about equal to the bank bailout?)

What are musculoskeletal conditions? They include that old nemesis: Low back and neck pain. Spine problems are among the most common problems that bring patients for medical care. That’s why the chiropractic industry is booming. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

Nursing Unions Put Patients At Risk

Only in the United States could a virus like H1N1 bring out the worst in medical politics and greed. We are facing a “pandemic” that requires coordination, communication and the best of medical practice. But what are we getting? Strikes, lawsuits and anything BUT putting patients first!

The strong nursing union, California Nurse Association (CNA), is taking this opportunity to call a strike on three large Catholic hospital chains (including 34 hospitals) throughout California and Nevada. The union bosses say the chief concerns are a lack of protective gear, improper isolation techniques and staffing that requires nurses to work (oh horrors!) 12 hour shifts during the flu crisis.

Although the nurses seem to want to walk out during a pandemic to “protect patients”, the nurses in New York and Washington also filed a lawsuit over the idea that they should be required to get the flu vaccine. You can’t have it both ways, nurses! You either want protection or you don’t. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*

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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