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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Plenty Of Speculation

Humans love to find patterns in the world. Sometimes patterns exist, sometimes they are imaginary. Sometimes you can see a pattern that may be interesting and ignore its significance. As a resident I used to say that anyone who smokes three packs of cigarettes a day has to be schizophrenic. It was meant more as a joke when, in fact, it was later discovered that tobacco helps ameliorate the symptoms of schizophrenia. I need to pay more attention.

Part of my job is to look for patterns as a key to the patients diagnosis. Diseases and pathogens tend to (more or less) cause reproducible signs and symptoms and looking for that pattern is often the most helpful clue towards finding the diagnosis. Of course things are never as easy as one would like, as you have to consider whether you are seeing common manifestations of a common disease, uncommon manifestations of a common disease, common manifestations of a uncommon disease and, the hardest, uncommon manifestations of an uncommon disease. When I have a complex or uncertain cause, I explicitly run through that, and other, litanies so I do not miss a unusual diagnosis.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has, at least to my way of thinking, two patterns. I see the occasional CFS patient in clinic and, I hope, pay attention to their disease patterns. I keep in mind I may be seeing a pattern that does not exist, but looking for disease patterns is what doctors are trained to do. Read more »

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

Patient Safety Video: “Hand Hygiene Saves Lives”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has produced a patient safety video about the importance of handwashing for hospital patients and their healthcare providers. The instructional piece entitled “Hand Hygiene Saves Lives” is available for hospitals to offer their newly-admitted patients. I think everyone should watch and learn:

Source: CDC-TV

Be Aware Of Heat Dangers In Young Athletes

Young athleteWith back-to-school time around the corner, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a warning about the risk for heat-related illness in young athletes, especially football players, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Coaches and parents should be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat stroke, dehydration and other problems, and fluid replacement formulas should be used during practices and workouts, among other precautions, the LA Times said.

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

The Health Hive: Is It Ready For Primetime?

Maybe not according to this report from the CDC. They studied Internet use with respect to adherence behavior and a number of health-related outcomes. It suggests that folks who diss the doc in favor of the Internet may not do as well as we think.

This quote caught me:

The data also revealed that personal determinants such as neuroticism (reflects anxiety and emotionality) and health-related poorer quality of life differentiated internet-instigated non-adherent respondents from their counterparts.

More plainly put: If you trust your life to an anonymous guy on Twitter with the handle @YourHealthGuru, you might not do as well as if you partnered with a trained professional. Or perhaps I’m reading too much into the study. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

(UPDATE) American Cancer Society: “Only” A Fundraising Ad, Right?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Following Gary Schwitzer’s HealthNewsReview.org August 11th blog post below entitled “American Cancer Society: ‘Only’ A Fundraising Ad, Right?”, the American Cancer Society pulled its “Screening Is Seeing” ad the next day.

See Schwitzer’s follow-up post “Screening Is Seeing” Ad By American Cancer Society-Cancer Action Network (ACS-CAN) Is Pulled” and a related article by Mary Carmichael of Newsweek: “The American Cancer Society’s Misleading New Ads.

Also see “Common Themes In The Alzheimer’s Test Stories And The Cancer Society Screening Ad” by Schwitzer.

(ORIGINAL POST)

American Cancer Society: “Only” A Fundraising Ad, Right?

A well-intentioned ad campaign run by the American Cancer Society is too vague, and therefore may leave impressions that are imbalanced, incomplete and unsubstantiated — the kind of common tactic seen in many drug company ads. That’s my opinion based on my analysis of the ad and based on my reading of the text.

An American Cancer Society news release states:

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is launching a new print and online advertising campaign in congressional districts across the country this week, urging lawmakers to fully fund a lifesaving cancer prevention, early detection and diagnostic program that is celebrating 20 years of screening low income, uninsured, and medically underserved women for breast and cervical cancer. The ads also send the message that when it comes to increasing your odds of surviving cancer, access to evidence-based early detection tools is critical.

The ads reference the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP), which has a track record of reducing deaths from breast and cervical cancer. The program has provided more than 9 million screening exams to more than 3 million women and diagnosed more than 40,000 cases of breast cancer and more than 2,000 cases of cervical cancer since it launched in 1990. But with limited funding, the program is able to serve fewer than 1 in 5 eligible women.

The accomplishments of the CDC NBCCEDP are noteworthy. So this blog entry is no knock on that program. It’s a criticism of the ad. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

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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