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Latest Posts

The State Of Drug-Seeking In America: Nothing Should Hurt

101-homepage-merthiolate

This might sting a little…

When I was a child, I was often painted orange with Merthiolate.  My grandmother, like every good grandmother, kept a bottle handy at all times.  Merthiolate was an antiseptic, containing Mercury, that was marketed for cuts and scrapes.

A fall on the gravel, a slide on the pavement, a run through the briar patch and you’d be sitting on the kitchen table while grandma colored you orange with the magical elixir, which incidentally burned like fire!

On a recent emergency department shift, we were colluding about the general state of drug-seeking in America, which has been enabled by our ‘nothing should hurt’ ideology.   One of my dear friends, Nurse Nancy, had a realization; an epiphany, really. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at edwinleap.com*

ER Physician Recharges At The Beach

This is my column in July’s EM News.  Have a restful day!

We travel to Hilton Head, SC, every spring for an ‘end of school-year’ vacation. It is a tradition that started several years ago; one which our family treasures. We plan months ahead, when we arrange lodging. Then, as the date draws closer we have to restrain ourselves from jumping up and down at odd, inappropriate times. The beach calls to us in an inexplicable way.

We live in a beautiful county, surrounded by mountains and lakes. It is, in itself, a worthy destination, perfect for biking, hiking, fishing and/or kayaking. But when May rolls around, our eyes turn to the east, and we long for the sand and sea. It is one of the special gifts of South Carolina, that highland forests and crashing surf are half a day’s car ride apart.

The morning we leave, the car is packed, the snacks tucked away, and we drive through the local Chick-fil-A for drinks. Then my dear wife immerses herself in a novel, her i-Pod turned to her music collection (eclectic as when we first met, running the gamut from Prince to Loreena McKinnet, from Aaron Copeland to Veggie-Tales). The children slip off their shoes and drift into games, or their own books and music before boredom takes them to sleep.

I am left enjoying the singular pleasure of driving across the state of South Carolina, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at edwinleap.com*

Asymptomatic Strep Throat: Should We Treat It?

Occasionally, I see patients who have received throat swabs for strep that have come back positive… even if they have no signs or symptoms of pharyngitis.

In this situation, there are 2 main actions a physician may take (I am biased towards one):

1) Prescribe antibiotics until throat cultures are normal
2) Do nothing

Personally, if a patient is without throat symptoms and has no history of rheumatic fever or kidney damage, I would not have even bothered obtaining a strep test. What for??? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Fauquier ENT Blog*

Should You Give Your Physician A Gift?

I used to get lots of gifts from patients during the holidays.  Not so much anymore.

I’m more patient-centered than ever.  And the older I get the more relaxed I get with my patients.  I’d like to think
that I’m more likeable.  But still fewer gifts than ten or fifteen years ago.

So what gives?

Times have changed.

Doctors nowadays are dispensable.  If a patient doesn’t like what they’ve got they can move on.  But this is probably a good thing.   Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Is This A Healthcare Crisis Or A Culture Problem?

I got an email today laying out the reality of our current health care debate.  Is it a crisis of culture or a health care crisis.  I am a firm believer in taking responsibility for one’s actions.  I believe those who chose not to practice healthy lifestyles should pay more for the consequences of their actions than those who do.  I believe the solution to our health care finance quandary lies not in controlling the  cost of treating disease, but rather in upholding the personal responsibility all Americans have to themselves and their country.

What does the distribution of health care dollars look like among the American population?  While we know that 50% of our population spends only 3% of health care dollars, we also  know that 50% of our health care dollars are spent by 5% of our population, a population of chronic disease sufferers who’s diseases  are, by and large,  a direct result of the personal decisions they chose to make on a daily basis.  For the most part, genetics alone is no longer an excuse.  We knew very well that lifestyle directly affects the expression of disease by genes. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist 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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