There are two schools of thought about how to extubate patients at the conclusion of general anesthesia: Allow the patient to wake up with the endotracheal tube in place, gagging on the tube and flailing like a fish on a line, while someone behind the patient’s head bleats, “Open your eyes!  Take a deep breath!” Or: Remove the endotracheal tube while the patient is still sleeping peacefully, which results in the smooth emergence ...

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In Sweden, back when I trained, three blood tests were the “routine labs” done at most doctor visits: hemoglobin, white blood cell count, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate. I’m trying to remember, but I don’t think everyone waited an hour to see the doctor, so they must have used a modified rapid sedimentation rate. The “sed rate,” or “sänkan” as we call it, was invented by Robin Fåhraeus, a relative of one ...

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Over the past decade, I have thought often about the benefits and the problems of clinical guidelines. The first concept that attracted my attention was reading about conflicting guidelines.  Given the same data, different guideline committees would have significantly different recommendations.  At the least, this problem raises questions about guideline validity.  It makes clear that committee perspective could influence recommendations.  Guideline recommendations sometimes are clear and demonstrably evidence based, but too ...

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A woman recently requested a medication evaluation at the suggestion of her psychotherapist.  The caller told me her diagnosis was borderline personality disorder. She hoped medication might ease her anxiety.  She also admitted that two other psychiatrists refused to see her because she was too “high risk.”  I asked if she was suicidal.  Yes, thoughts crossed her mind. However, she never acted on them, and was not suicidal currently.  I ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 34-year-old man is evaluated for episodic palpitations of 8 months' duration. The palpitations last 5 to 10 minutes and then resolve spontaneously. They are usually associated with sweating and anxiety. Medical history is significant for thyroidectomy for medullary thyroid carcinoma diagnosed at 12 years of age. His father ...

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He had cardiomyopathy and CHF for over 20 years. At the time, doctors told him he could die at any time. That was 20 years ago. His EF was 10 percent — barely livable. Two decades later, this admit kept him on a see-saw with respiratory distress, a bad heart, bad lungs, atrial fibrillation with RVR and heart rate in the 140s all day long. He progressed from nasal cannula to ...

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Regular readers of my blog know that I believe that the harms of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening for prostate cancer outweigh the benefits — if benefits exist at all. That isn't to say that I will not order the test in a man who understands the risks and expresses a clear preference to be screened. In a recent editorial in American Family Physician, I explained ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 25-year-old woman with type 1 diabetes presents to clinic requesting more information about use of a closed-loop insulin-delivery system (artificial beta cell). Although her HbA1c is at goal, she notes frequent hypoglycemia as an issue. In addition, she would like to further improve her glycemic control in anticipation of ...

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1. You might get sent home. If you show up pregnant with your first baby, and it turns out you aren’t 4 cm dilated yet, you will get sent home because you aren’t in active labor. Please don’t cuss out the charge nurse. Yes, you are in pain — we aren’t denying that. But, there are limited numbers of beds on labor suites, and we need to keep some open for ...

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By now, most readers already know that Senator John McCain has been diagnosed with a brain tumor -- specifically, a glioblastoma.  I take no pleasure is suspecting such a diagnosis, as I wrote a few days ago, based on a bit of medical logic and observation rather than what the media reported. This is a devastating diagnosis for the senator and his family, not the blood clot initially described, ...

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