Britain’s most prolific serial killer was a general practitioner (GP), Dr. Harold Shipman. He wasn’t England’s most famous murderer. That accolade goes to Jack the Ripper. The Ripper killed five women in the streets of Whitechapel. Shipman might have been responsible for over 200 deaths. Shipman’s legacy to the medical profession was not just a permanent simmering of mistrust. He triggered the introduction of revalidation, Britain’s version of maintenance of certification ...

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ZDoggMD's latest parody.  This time he takes aim at Garth Brooks in "Friends With Low Platelets." "I’m not big on thrombopoiesis. Think I’ll skip on down to plasmapheresis. 'cause I got friends … with low platelets." Classic.

The ALS ice bucket challenge, better known as #ALSIceBucketChallenge or #icebucketchallenge, was almost the perfect storm for viral fundraising. In my course, Designing Health Campaigns Using Social Media at Tufts University, we analyzed why the challenge went viral. Not surprisingly, given its popularity, my students had all heard about it and watched challenge videos. About half had done it. Some researched amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and ...

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My life changed dramatically when I started my new practice.  The biggest change personally was a dramatic drop in my income as I built a new business using a model that is fairly new.  That's a tough thing to do with four kids, three of whom were in college last fall.  OK, that's a stupid thing to do, but my stupidity has already been well-established. Yet even if the income stayed ...

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Few medical interventions have been as successful as vaccines in improving public health. Whether they are childhood vaccinations, vaccines to prevent healthy adults from contracting influenza or the more recent HPV vaccine for adolescents, these preventive methods have resulted in dramatic benefits for individuals and the public. We have only to think of the eradication of smallpox and the virtual eradication of poliomyelitis to see the enormous benefits vaccines can bring. ...

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It had been crazy busy all night in the emergency department and I had been running from room to room patching holes and trying to get patients seen. I felt behind all night.  Finally, I had a moment to collect my thoughts and turned my attention to a patient who had been waiting for quite a while. This patient had multiple large and deep lacerations to his forearm, self-inflicted wounds caused during ...

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I recently treated a patient who was hospitalized with paraplegia. During some routine lab testing I noticed that his liver function tests were elevated, and so I began looking for a cause. I discussed the patient’s drinking habits (he rarely drank alcohol), risks for viral hepatitis (no IV drug use or exposure to those with known hepatitis), and general medical history (nothing relevant to liver disease). I reviewed his current ...

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Top stories in health and medicine, September 30, 2014From MedPage Today:

  1. Data Confirm Anti-ALK Activity in Rare NSCLC. Objective responses occurred in 72% of patients with mutation-specific non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treated with crizotinib (Xalkori).
  2. Case Reports: PET Imaging in Dementia. In two cases of progressing dementia, PET imaging with amyloid and tau tracers helped to clarify the diagnosis ...

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I’ve been toiling in the field of connected health for 20 years now, watching for signs of adoption that will move us into the steep part of the curve.  I have to wonder, with announcements from several huge consumer companies recently, if that time is coming. By now you’ve heard about Apple’s HealthKit announcement, which involved not only Apple, but Mayo Clinic and Epic. Samsung is not sitting still, having released increasingly ...

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When I was in high school, a national hardware retailer opened a new franchise down the street from the mom-and-pop hardware store that had served my neighborhood for many years. Since the new store had the advantage of larger volumes and lower costs, it seemed to be only a matter of time before it drove its smaller competitor out of business, the way that big bookstore chains and fast-food restaurants ...

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The outrageous $117,000 bill from an assistant surgeon Recently, I wondered why Medicare could not control its costs using the investigative power of the federal government instead of releasing physician payment data and relying on journalists to do the work. Two stories that appeared within days of each other raise a similar question about the private insurance industry's methods. An article in Modern Healthcare described the impending closure of ...

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Fran Barker called today. She was in a panic because the cost of her monthly prescription of 150 mg amitriptyline tablets had gone up to $130 from $13 the month before. Amitriptyline has been available in this country since 1961, and the 100 mg strength was on Walmart’s list of $4/month drugs the last time I looked at it a few months ago. I called Fran’s pharmacy. Two of the 75 mg ...

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The ear, nose and throat specialist who treated comedian Joan Rivers on August 28 has been identified as Dr. Gwen Korovin, a prominent New York physician who is known as a voice doctor to many entertainers and Broadway stars including Hugh Jackman and Julie Andrews. With a physician who is an expert in airway anatomy at her side, and all the technologic advantages of a modern clinic in Manhattan’s upper east side, the ...

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Part 2 of a series (read part 1). I realized I was entering into a process the rules of which were entirely separate from normal human interaction when it hit me that news of the lawsuit was in the newspaper before anyone had had the decency to contact me. What kind of people act like that? Civilized behavior, respectfulness -- in short, all the ways in which you'd think nice ...

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Top stories in health and medicine, September 29, 2014From MedPage Today:

  1. Plans Wrestling With Narrow Networks, Accurate Doc Lists. Narrow provider lists are only one of several network adequacy issues that insurers and regulators are grappling with.
  2. Ebola: 'Magic Bullets' or Current Tools? European health authorities want to compile an overview of all the available data on experimental medications for ...

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One hundred forty-nine messages. This is what I return to on my first day back from vacation. Many of them were marked with a little red arrow, indicating a high-priority phone message. Recharging with a little time off is a darn good thing, something we all need, and something which has been shown to help all of us be better at what we do. All of us, no matter what our jobs are. ...

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The recent arrest of Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson on child abuse charges has sparked a national conversation on the manner in which parents should discipline their children. Allegedly, Adrian Peterson injured his 4-year-old son by spanking him with a thin tree branch (“a switch”) and leaving cuts and bruises all over his body. After learning of Adrian Peterson’s indictment, Peterson’s mother, Bonita Jackson, was interviewed by the ...

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When my 82-year-old uncle had a heart attack in the kitchen of his home, I was on the next plane to the East Coast. No one knew how long his brain had been deprived of oxygen before he’d been resuscitated. As I stood next to his bed in the hospital’s ICU, I feared that my uncle would not make it. I learned that he’d suffered a second heart attack shortly ...

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Around the country, doctors are leaving independent practice and joining large groups owned by health care systems. It’s a trend: the recruiting firm Merritt Hawkins predicts that if current growth continues, over 75% of newly hired physicians will be hospital employees within two years. There seem to be a number of reasons for this consolidation of physicians and hospitals into islands of care. One is the desire for larger groups to have ...

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American health care has become a gigantic game board with players of all sorts strategizing to win. Winning, of course, means getting more money from payers: government or private. It turns out this medical marketplace game is not all that new. It's just become wilier, as I have shared in a couple of posts over the summer. An obituary last week for Dr. Rashi Fein, an influential economist with a progressive stripe ...

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