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

Latest Posts

Strange Requests In The Emergency Department: Virginity Testing And More

As the country wrestles with the cost of health-care, and as various media outlets address the role of emergency departments, I thought this little guide-might be helpful!  I pulled it out of my archives from several years ago.  Enjoy!

All too often, I discharge a patient and think to myself, What instructions can I give for this? Sometimes there are problems and questions that don’t have obvious solutions or answers. And in these situations, coming up with something useful for the patient to read at home is, to say the least, difficult. I’ve come up with a few based on some of the enigmas I see at Oconee Memorial Hospital.

Virginity evaluation: The emergency physician has not determined the status of your daughter’s virginity. In fact, the emergency physician does not wish to know the status of your daughter’s virginity. Furthermore, this doesn’t constitute an emergency. Unfortunately, no one has so far developed any simple home kits for making this determination. If you do, please notify the emergency department so that we can refer other families to your product. If you wish to know more about your daughter’s sexuality, try talking to her. If you found her naked in bed with a boy, you don’t need us.

Drug use evaluation: The emergency physician has not performed a random drug test on your teenage son. He has no complaints, is not suicidal, and has no apparent medical problem. This is not a family counseling center. If you want to know if he is using drugs, talk to him. Admittedly, he is a surly, unpleasant, disheveled, and foul-mouthed young man, whose multiple piercings make him look like a Stone Age erector set. But finding out if he is using drugs simply doesn’t constitute what we like to call an emergency. If he isn’t using drugs, be certain that repeated trips to the emergency department accompanied by screaming parents will certainly give him good reason to start.

Whole body numbness: It simply isn’t possible to be awake, walking, talking, and functioning and be entirely numb from head to toe. Admittedly, your ability to overcome the sensation of sharp needles and other painful stimuli is impressive, and may herald a future career with the CIA. For now, however, our physician has determined that the one thing likely to be numb on your person is your skull. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

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 »

Commented - Most Popular Articles