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Latest Posts

Psychiatrists Must Maintain Their Distance

In the Clinical Encounters case featured here two days ago, I presented the story of a psychiatrist who goes for a urological procedure and discovers that one of his former patients is the nurse assisting.  People wrote in to suggest ways he should handle this awkward situation and I was struck by the idea that some suggested he tell the urologist that he knows the nurse in a social setting (because he can’t tell the other doc that the nurse was his psychiatric patient) and the assumption that the urologist would be understanding, and that perhaps the urologist should have policies in place in case of such events.

Do surgeons think this way? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*

PR Company Facebook Lurker Offends Breast Cancer Survivor On Behalf Of Genzyme

Marilyn Mann is a very smart woman. She’s a securities lawyer. But she’s also educated herself about health care out of necessity. She’s a breast cancer survivor and she has a daughter with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic disease causing very high LDL-cholesterol. She is one of the administrators of a Facebook group called Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) Discussion Group – intended primarily for people with FH or their family members.

Recently, Mann got a message from a PR woman who had joined the Facebook page.

“Hi Marilyn,

A few months ago, I had emailed you about some research I was doing about a new treatment for FH. I am now working with a pharmaceutical company, and the company currently has a drug in development to help treat people with severe FH that may not be responding to current therapies. Read more »

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

Supreme Court: Data Mining OK, Even When Physician Privacy Is Compromised

The Supreme Court has sided with Big Pharma in their challenge to the Vermont Law limiting the pharmaceutical Industry’s access to physician prescribing information.

The nation’s high court handed down a verdict Thursday in the Sorrell v. IMS Health case, striking down by a 6-3 vote a 2007 Vermont law that that bans the practice of data mining — the sale and use of prescriber-identifiable information for marketing or promoting a drug, including drug detailing — unless a physician specifically gives his or her permission to use the information.

Apparently, Big Pharma’s right to “free speech” trumps my right to privacy. How getting access to my prescribing information has anything to do with free speech is beyond me.  In the twisted logic of the pro-business, anti-citizen Supreme Court –

Speech in aid of pharmaceutical marketing… is a form of expression protected by the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog That Ate Manhattan*

Social Media Users ARE The Media: Why You Can’t Keep Secrets At Medical Meetings

This NCI Cancer Bulletin article on the use of social media at this week’s American Society of Clinical Oncology is worth reading.  It showcases how a major medical organization sees social media unfolding at a national meeting.  I’ll be following #ASCO11 closely where some sources predict the Tweet count could reach 10-15,000.

What caught my eye was discussion surrounding the speaker-imposed restriction of Twitter at scientific presentations.  Apparently some meetings such as the Biology of Genomes Conference at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, presenters have to grant permission to allow the use of Twitter (this apparently will not be the case at ASCO).

This is a quote from the meeting media policy at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Often, during the course of a meeting, a scientist will present a discovery, method, or current project that is not yet complete or published. Therefore, to prevent the premature release of confidential information, we require all media attendees to obtain permission in advance from the relevant scientist prior to reporting any spoken or printed information gleaned from the meetings. Media attendees are encouraged to approach scientists out-of-session (e.g. during coffee breaks, poster sessions, wine and cheese parties, etc.) for informal discussions, formal interviews, and/or permission to report sensitive information at the appropriate time. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at 33 Charts*

Veterans Affairs CIO Says iPads Need To Be Secured For Medical Use

In a nod to the reality of rapid physician adoption of tablets and smartphones, the CIO of the VA system recently stated that the VA must find a way to accommodate  iPads at a  conference on federal information technology.

According to Baker, the fact is that 100,000 residents rotate through the VA each year and “they’re all carrying mobile devices”. In order for them to do their jobs, they want to be able to access resources on the internet.

In an article published at nextgov.com, CIO Roger Baker said:

I’ve told my folks I don’t want to say ‘no’ to those devices anymore…I want to know how I say yes.

The key, according to Baker, is security. While the iPad can be secured, proper protocols need to be developed. Otherwise, the device can be likened to a “huge unencrypted USB stick with no pin”. In order to facilitate development of security protocols, a pilot program has been launched giving out iPads to select employees in situations where security is looser. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

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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