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

Latest Posts

The Potential Risks And Benefits Of Vitamins: A Look At The Evidence

The discovery of various vitamins – essential micronutrients that cause disease when deficient – was one of the great advances of modern scientific medicine. This knowledge also led to several highly successful public health campaigns, such as vitamin-D supplementation to prevent rickets.

Today vitamins have a deserved reputation for being an important part of overall health. However, their reputation has gone beyond the science and taken on almost mythical proportions. Perhaps it is due to aggressive marketing from the supplement industry, perhaps recent generations have grown up being told by their parents thousands of times how important it is to take their vitamins, or eat vitamin-rich food. Culture also plays a role – Popeye eating spinach to make himself super strong is an example this pervasive message.

Regardless of the cause, the general feeling is that vitamins Read more »

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

Understanding Risk Related To Outdoor Health

Dr. Robert “Brownie” Schoene, an enormously talented, accomplished, and insightful physician who resides within the bedrock of wilderness medicine, gave a wonderful presentation about the concept of risk at the 2010 annual summer meeting of the Wilderness Medical Society. Risk is inherent in outdoor activities, whether it is part of exploration, adventure, science, or industry. I am going to summarize his approach to the topic, which is among the most important general concepts in the field, and editorialize with some of my thoughts.

When one thinks of risk related to outdoor health, it is about the possibility of suffering harm, damage, or loss. When a person is aware of the possibility of a specific risk, he or she usually weighs the risk against the possible benefits. When you hike on a slippery, snowy trail in early spring, where the trail winds over patches of ice near ledges from which a fall would cause a severe injury, is the experience worth the risk? When you ride a wave on your surfboard when the waves are intimidating and you are outside your comfort zone, is the improvement in performance worth the possibility of a tumble and possible muscle tear or broken bone? Sometimes the answer is easy. When I travel to a third world country, I always run the risk of acquiring infectious diarrhea. The benefits of the mission supersede the discomfort, and I both anticipate the risk and prepare for treatment by carrying oral rehydration supplies and appropriate antibiotics.

I love the quote from Winston Churchill that Dr. Schoene used to illustrate a risk-taker’s approach: Read more »

This post, Understanding Risk Related To Outdoor Health, was originally published on Healthine.com by Paul Auerbach, M.D..

Pediatric Ventricular Assist Device Is Gaining Wider Use In The U.S.

Ventricular Assist Devices (VADs) are small pumps that take over the work of the heart in pumping the blood through the body. Patients who need a heart transplant, but for whom there is no donor heart available, might be given a VAD for what’s called a bridge-to-transplant while they wait for a donor.

PediMag, the pediatric version of the adult device, CentriMag, is an external device designed for short-term use in infants with heart failure. PediMag can also be used to support children after heart transplant surgery if they experience organ rejection and need time for their hearts to rest and heal, according to Jonathan M. Chen, MD, Surgical Director of Pediatric Heart Transplantation at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York. Dr. Chen has extensive experience treating children with heart failure and has recently authored an account of his first successful use of the PediMag as a biventricular bridge-to-transplant in an infant.

The PediMag ventricular assist device is Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Columbia University Department of Surgery Blog*

Challenges And Opportunities Of Health Care Social Media

I spoke on health care social media and regulatory compliance at the Health Care Compliance Association’s New England Regional Annual Conference last week.  As you may expect, the room was full of the folks who, generally speaking, are the folks who block social media sites on health care organization networks.  I sent a link to an online bio to one of the session organizers in advance, and even that site was blocked by his facility’s network.  Clearly, we have a long way to go in educating health care compliance professionals about the risks and benefits of using health care social media, and an appropriate approach to balancing these risks and benefits so as to establish an appropriate social media presence for each health care organization.

My talk was followed by a presentation by two federal prosecutors, one of whom reminded the audience that they may need to produce copies of all online postings in response to government document requests or subpoenas.  We may quibble about the scope of material that might be covered by such a production request, but the key takeaway from this comment should be Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at HealthBlawg :: David Harlow's Health Care Law Blog*

Penalties Will Not Promote Participation In ACOs

As we get closer to January 2012, the originally scheduled implementation date for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), the time has come to reexamine the showpiece of President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010.

The final rules for ACO’s are now scheduled for release on January 2012. The implementation was originally scheduled for January 2012. As the original rules are being studied and interpreted the program for ACOs implementation became more confusing. Dr. Don Berwick (CMS Director) has refused to discuss the final rules until they have been published in the Federal Register.

“The ACO program is based on the hubristic assumption that the federal government can design the best organizational structure for the delivery of care, foster its development, and control its operation for the entire country.

The federal government has big-footed health system reform. Although there is no one right way to organize care, the federal government (Dr. Don Berwick and President Obama) thinks it has found one—and exerts top-down, bureaucratic control through PPACA to implement it.”

ACOs are supposed to be organizations that improve coordinated care. If an ACO decreases the cost of care Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Repairing the Healthcare System*

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 »