Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Will Slowing That Hectic Schedule Improve A Doctor’s Performance?

I had a couple of slow shifts in the emergency department recently, around Thanksgiving. And it made me think of Nomar Garciaparra, the old Red Sox shortstop.

Nomar always had to throw off-balance, while running and jumping. You can see his style on display when throwing the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway last year.

In an interview (can’t find the reference, sorry) he said he always had to throw this frenzied manner, even for an easy grounder where he’d normally have time to collect himself. If he paused too long to think about it, the throw would come off badly, he said.

I always thought this was a psychological issue — dubbed Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Blogborygmi*

Baseball Safety: Should We Ban Non-Wood Bats?

Baseball-bat_240

Opening Day, the first day of the 2011 major league baseball season, was March 31st. The first pitch was thrown a little after 1 p.m., and sometime after that baseball fans heard the first crack of the bat of a brand-new season.

Even nonfans can rejoice at this sign of spring, and a promise that summer days are ahead.

But you won’t hear the crack of the bat very much these days from other diamonds—Little League, high school, and college. It has been replaced by pings and thunks as most players at those levels now use metal bats or composite ones, which that are made with a mixture of materials, including graphite.

Players started using metal (usually aluminum) bats about 30 years ago. They last longer than wooden bats and send the ball farther. The composite models have come on strong more recently.

But there’s growing concern that nonwood bats may pose a safety hazard to fielders—especially pitchers— because they make a hit baseball go faster. The added speed gives fielders less time to react and, if they are hit, increases their risk of injury. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*

Quality Of Life And The Importance Of “Shay Days”

As a medical professional who often treats children with chronic diseases, my patients turn to me not only for treatment advice but often for advice on how to improve their quality of life. I often have difficulty addressing the latter as there is a paucity of research on quality of life outcomes as compared to biomedical outcomes.

However, preliminary data from DR Walker et al. (1) have shown that comprehensive disease management improves quality of life and thereby reduces medical costs for some common chronic illnesses. Recently, a patient shared a story with me that was written by an anonymous author which demonstrates the powerful effect of seemingly small efforts on the quality of life of a disabled child. Read more »

My Brother, The Red Sox, And A Wrong Diagnosis Gone Right

How often do people get the wrong diagnosis? Too often.

There are things you can do help protect yourself. Things like, asking questions, being sure everything makes sense to you, not doing anything you’re not sure about.

At Best Doctors, helping people do this is what we do every day, and so I want to tell you a story. It’s about my brother. I want to tell it to you it because it will help you understand the important work we do here, and because of something very special that happened for him this weekend. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at See First Blog*

Steroid Use, BMI, And Risk Of Death

You might already be aware of this week’s finding if you’ve watched baseball in the past decade or so and noticed that Mark McGwire’s arms are about the circumference of the average ballplayer’s waist in the 70s. But just to be sure, researchers recently compared the BMIs of professional baseball players from 1876 to 2007 to find that, like serving sizes and master bathrooms, they’ve gotten bigger.

Clear, right? But in taking the next step, drawing conclusions from this study, this article from HealthDay gets about as confused as a science article can be. The study authors are concerned because they correlated the ballplayers’ “increased BMIs with an increased risk of death.” (We’re assuming that’s a risk of premature death, since it seems pretty certain that the 1876 team would be dead regardless of their % body fat.)

But a critic of the study argued first that ballplayers’ increasing size is not a health risk, and then that the players might be dying early because they’re using steroids. Um, we’re not scientists, but mightn’t there be a relationship (even a causal one, perhaps?) between steroid use and increased BMI?

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all book reviews »