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Why You Should Quit Smoking Before Surgery

Physicians and surgeons all agree on the link between smoking and postoperative complications.  We don’t agree (or know) how much time is required between cessation of smoking and surgery for optimal risk reduction.

Dr.Thomas Fiala wrote a nice blog post, Smoking Cessation and surgical complications, recently  discussing the 3rd reference article below.

Smokers that quit smoking before surgery had 41% fewer complications. The researchers found that each week of cessation increases the effect by 19%.

Trials of at least 4 weeks’ smoking cessation had a significantly larger treatment effect than shorter trials (P = .04).

Smokers that quit had lower rates of total complications, fewer wound healing complications, and fewer pulmonary complications.

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*This blog post was originally published at Suture for a Living*

Gallbladder Surgery, Medical Errors, And John Murtha

While the news reports that Representative John Murtha of Pennsylvania died after complications from gallbladder surgery, the question no one is asking is whether his death was a preventable one or simply an unfortunate outcome. According to the Washington Post, Murtha had elective laproscopic gallbladder surgery performed at the Bethesda Naval Hospital and fell ill shortly afterwards from an infection related to his surgery.

He was hospitalized to Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Virginia, to treat the post-operative infection. His care was being monitored in the intensive care unit (ICU), a sign which suggests that not only was the infection becoming widespread but also that vital organ systems were shutting down. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Saving Money and Surviving the Healthcare Crisis*

Regional Variations in Total Knee Replacement Surgery

It has been proven than there is tremendous variation in the practice of medicine across the United States. The Dartmouth data (Wennberg et al) has documented the differences in how medical resources are used and how different physicians practice medicine, depending upon where they live. The Dartmouth studies are mainly focused on cost and outcomes and make the case that improved quality is often inversely related to the cost of care. More (expensive) care is not necessarily better care.

Now that I am recovering from a total joint replacement, I am amazed to see the differences in how physicians, doing the same surgery, treat the patient. Total knee replacement (TKA) is one of the most common orthopedic procedures done today. Despite this, the patient cannot expect the same post op care. 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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