This morning, a friend of mine posted an article on Facebook that was titled, “Dear anti-vax parents, we’re not mad at you. Sincerely, your doctor.” She had captioned it, “Maybe when all the vitriol and anger and judgment dies down, maybe we can start having conversations like this, instead.” The funny thing is that I had posted the exact same blog post (which later became an article) about two ...

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There are many good reasons for Congress to enact President Obama’s proposal to raise the Federal minimum wage to $9 per hour.  Many of these reasons, from economic stimulus to possible reductions in gaping income inequality to much-needed financial relief for working families, have been extensively discussed in the public sphere.  However, one important benefit of increasing wages has not received enough attention: improving mental health. Numerous studies show that poverty ...

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Just because it’s simple doesn’t make it easy. Take a look at habits. Do you floss? We all know the advantages, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do it. Yet only 28 percent of people say they floss regularly. How about covering your mouth when you cough? Again, it’s not difficult, but we all know people who fail to grasp the concept. Unfortunately, the same is true for hand-washing. ...

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I went to the retired firefighters dinner last week and had a great time, probably because I happened to land on a table full of contemporaries: men who worked at pretty much the same time I did. Inevitably, conversation turned to our memories of some of the older firefighters we had to deal with as we worked our way up the seniority ladder; "getting time on" is what it was called.  ...

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medpagetodayFrom MedPage Today:

  1. Brain Blood Flow May Tell of Concussion Recovery. Cerebral blood flow may be a useful biomarker for predicting outcomes following concussion.
  2. Does More Coffee Mean Less Arterial Plaque? Moderate coffee consumption was associated with a decreased risk of high coronary artery calcium (CAC) scores in asymptomatic people.

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Over 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain such as spinal disorders (lower back pain, disc disease, pinched nerves and neck pain), complex regional pain syndrome, fibromyalgia and headaches. The cost of chronic pain in human suffering, lost worker productivity and in health care dollars is counted in the billions. Yet despite newer, expensive and invasive treatments like spinal fusions and disc surgery, spinal cord stimulators, steroid and painkiller injections, nerve  "burning" and ...

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My father’s sister Mary died from measles when she was six years old. Her death haunted my grandparents for the rest of their lives. She was one of the thousands who died each year from measles before there was a vaccine to prevent this life-threatening disease. Her story has always stayed with me -- from my days as a child to my years in medical school. And once again I’m reminded of ...

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There’s been a lot written about the measles outbreak and antivaccine parents. Fact is, the current situation is a direct and predictable result of many social/political trends that have emerged in America over the last generation. I am sharing five easy steps to take if you want to create an epidemic just like this. 1. Raise a generation ignorant about science. The majority of Americans are 
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shutterstock_122870008 On Valentine’s Day weekend last year I found myself at Paddles, the local dungeon in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood, for the first time. I was perched at the alcohol-free bar when a man politely introduced himself as a human carpet. He asked that I tread on him and lay on the floor to demonstrate. A professional dominatrix-in-training stepped onto his ...

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In a followup to his vaccine PSA, Jimmy Kimmel's crew take to the streets and absurdly ask whether vaccines should be a child's choice.  Priceless.

Recently, the American College of Surgeons -- our profession's premier organization encompassing all surgical sub-specialties -- launched its updated website. Included in this website are online communities where surgeons from around the country and even further away, can connect. In my interpretation of these communities, surgeons can connect over shared subspecialty topics (e.g., colorectal surgery, general surgery, orthopedic surgery), shared clinical interests (e.g., ethics, geriatric surgery, surgical safety), or shared circumstances (e.g., surgeons practicing ...

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Hospital leaders who are successful managers today are successful because they manage change. The great hospitals leaders by now have become masters at it. But there’s a difference between change you can see coming (bundled payments, EHR implementations, declining reimbursements) and change that shows up unannounced on the front door. That’s often what it feels like when a huge, publicly traded company acquires a smaller physicians group. It can feel like ...

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medpagetodayFrom MedPage Today:

  1. Don't Like ICD-10? Don't Worry -- ICD-11 is on the Horizon. As U.S. physicians gear up to put the ICD-10 coding system in place by the upcoming Oct. 1 deadline, work is being done elsewhere on the coding system's next-generation product: ICD-11.
  2. Docs Struggle With Vaccine Spacing. Ninety-three percent ...

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Cholesterol pills are one of the great medical advances I’ve witnessed during my professional career. I am talking specifically about a category of medications called statins, drugs like Lipitor and Pravachol. These drugs have prevented probably hundreds of thousands of heart attacks and strokes. Only one problem with these drugs, however: statins won’t help people who don’t take them. And according to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, when ...

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I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date! No time to say hello, goodbye! I’m late! I’m late! I’m late! - The White Rabbit, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland It is in the very words, "running late." It is not walking late, or strolling late, or even meandering late. It is always running late, the phrase itself active, implying urgency and speed, rush and anxiety. The distress, just like the White Rabbit. The dash to the next appointment in a crammed tight, ...

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March is colon cancer awareness month.  We have made tremendous strides in the fight against cancer especially colon cancer. Between 1991 and 2011, U.S. cancer death rate decreased by 22 percent (1.5 million lives saved), and colon cancer death rate decreased by almost 50 percent. This decrease coincides with widespread adoption of colorectal cancer screening particularly colonoscopy. Despite this progress, colon cancer is still the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in ...

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Despite the well-known rollout problems for hospitals and clinics across the nation, there are many palpable and welcome advantages to using electronic health records. Chief among these are the ability to access the chart from anywhere, rapidly search for information needed, and reducing the centuries-old problem of illegible doctors’ handwriting.  But with the good comes the bad, and in these still relatively early stages of health care information technology adoption -- ...

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Incentive structures in health care have to change. Right now, we pay for services, or have a so-called, fee-for-service system. The idea is that the more patients doctors see, the more expensive tests doctors order and the more patients doctors hospitalize, the more money clinics and hospitals make. This incentive structure has transformed our health care into sick care. The reality is, in America, we are adept at caring for complicated medical problems that require ...

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Loss is something all humans face in their everyday lives.  As a physician, the effects are often magnified.  People die, they move away, they graduate from your services, or occasionally they pursue care elsewhere.  Parting can sometimes bring relief, and others a deep sense of failure.  But with Clara, I'm not sure we actually parted.  Mostly, I was left with confusion. Clara came to me by way of the nursing home.  ...

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medpagetodayFrom MedPage Today:

  1. Statin Therapy Suppresses Coronary Plaques in HIV Patients. Treatment with potent statin medication appears to reduce plaque burden in coronary arteries of patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) while untreated patients experienced expansion of plaques.
  2. Few Women Qualify for 3-Person IVF. Close to 800 women of childbearing age ...

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