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Protecting Your Kid’s Brain

Neuropsychologist Kim Gorgens spoke at the last TEDxDU about issues surrounding children’s safety and what parents can do to prevent concussions — and it’s probably not to wrap the little ones in bubble tape. Watch for yourself:

(Hat Tip: Scope)

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Inner Ear Infections: Still No Need For Antibiotics

Kids get inner ear infections and then they get antibiotics, despite a long-standing knowledge that it’s not always best. Any physician knows this, but who hasn’t faced an irate or anxious parent in the exam room insisting on a prescription, whether the evidence warrants it or not?

Reuters reports that the tally for all those antibiotics is $2.8 billion dollars, or $350 per child annually. And there’s only a slight benefit to them.

While hardly comforting to the parents, physicians can add more heft to their argument that antibiotics are only modestly more effective than nothing, and they can avoid the rashes and diarrhea that antibiotics incur. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Making Circumcision A Crime?

Have you heard? First San Fransisco bans toys in Happy Meals. Now CNN is reporting there’s a  circumcision ban proposed in San Fransisco as well. 

To recap: Anti-circumcision activist Lloyd Schofield has drawn up a proposal outlawing all circumcisions, even for religious reasons (circumcision of boys is traditional in Judaism and Islam.) The punishment would be up to a year in jail or up to a $1,000 fine.

Boy, oh boy. What a hot-bed topic circumcision is. Mandating a ban against all circumcisions is like mandating a requirement that all boys be circumcised. Nobody is right. Everyone is an expert. You’re either for it or against it. But making circumcision a crime? I don’t know. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

Does It Matter What The Hospitalist Thinks?

I read this article about a young child with heterotaxy syndrome with great interest. Not because I find heterotaxy syndrome something of great fascination, but because of the lack of communication — on both ends of the spectrum:

Even though 5 other Dr. all came in and listened to his lungs and said that he didn’t sound like he was wheezing and that his lungs sounded really good. But because this hospital is overly political, process driven, bureaucratic, and in a constant state of litigious fear they are unable to make any conclusions based on actual medicine and patient care. Common sense is blown out the window when you  have a system were a hospitalist one year out of medical school has an opinion that is as valuable as a cardiologist with 25+ years experience.

But in fairness, they all had to “really consider her opinion.”

So they went and got a pulmonologist to evaluate him, which Scott and I were very happy about because there was nothing in the world that would’ve made me more happy in that moment than to have her proven wrong. Which she was.

The whole article is a case study in stress, distrust, and legalism. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

Breaking Oncology News: Can It Spread Socially?

I [recently] received a press release from a friend in the Bay Area. Investigators at UCSF have published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine showing that less chemotherapy can be effective at treating some childhood cancers.

The paper was the result of an eight-year clinical study in children with neuroblastoma. In this particular population, researchers were able to reduce chemotherapy exposure by 40 percent while maintaining a 90 percent survival rate. You can read about it here.

The press release sparked a brief email exchange between me and my friend: Who might be interested in writing about this study and is there any way to get it to spread?  What would make it sticky in the eyes of the public?

Here are a few ideas:

Figure out who cares. Sure it’s niche news, but there are people who would think this is pretty darn important. Think organizations centered on parents of children with cancer, adult survivors of childhood cancer, pediatric hematology-oncology physicians, pediatricians and allied professionals in pediatric medicine like nurse practitioners and hematology-oncology nurses. Networks form around these groups. Find them and seed them.

Make a video. Offer powerful, visual content beyond a press release. A four-minute clip with the principal investigator, Dr. Matthay, would be simple and offer dimension to what is now something restricted to print. The Mayo Clinic has done this really well. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

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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