Since I dedicated an entire issue of JAMA on Nov. 11, 1998 to the theme of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in an effort to move CAM into the mainstream, I keep hoping that some of the numerous CAM offerings will make it out of the realm of anecdotal and placebo-healer-effect, and successfully through randomized controlled clinical trials. So I got excited when I saw the BMJ Evidence Centre via ...

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Beginning work at Launceston General Hospital in Tasmania, orientation really, I noticed a lot of things missing: places to sign my name. For any given patient I’d sign: the completed chart note, perhaps a lab (sorry, pathology) and imaging slip, a prescription form (in triplicate – ok, so that was weird), and a GP letter. I didn’t have to sign (physically or electronically) multiple different "attestations," I didn’t have to generate multiple ...

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Betty was complaining at an escalating rate. She'd been in her nursing home for four years and wasn't happy. She kept coming up with new symptoms like aching, fatigue, nervous stomach, tingling, dizziness, etc. Her daughter Nancy was getting daily calls from Betty and the staff at the nursing home. Multiple trips to the doctor for diagnostic tests had ensued: blood counts, liver functions, x-rays, thyroid function, plus many others. ...

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People who regularly take medicine should know what we’re taking.  To me, this seems obvious, but there are always those who need everything stated explicitly.  People taking prescriptions, vitamins, herbs, and any other treatments should know what’s being taken and why. It’s pretty easy to make yourself a list and stick it in your wallet so that it’s always available.  If you need medical assistance (for instance, if you’re in a ...

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In response to low immunization rates in my community, I served on a task force to develop a community-based pilot to increase influenza vaccination. We worked in collaboration with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Department for Aging, Visiting Nurse Services of New York (VNSNY) and a local church health ministry. On a Sunday morning in late November (during the CDC's National Influenza Vaccine Week) nearly 100 African-Americans received ...

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I knew it was more than a tragic coincidence when two of my friends, middle-aged men without the usual risk factors of tobacco and alcohol use, developed late stage (IV) tongue cancer, reportedly the identical condition with which actor Michael Douglas was diagnosed last year. Cancers of the mouth and throat are growing so quickly that experts in the medical and scientific community are calling this an “epidemic,” for which ...

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Two nights ago, I was watching, with my family, an old episode of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, in which a young woman is bitten by a rabid wolf, develops rabies, and dies. That same night, I read a post on Facebook decrying the dangers of immunizations, with a link to an online “news” article blaming immunizations for everything from spreading cancer to HIV. My mother, as a girl, was bitten by ...

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I usually cringe when I see a pharmaceutical company ad on TV.  I think most pharma commercials do more harm than good.  The ads scare patients out of taking medications they need. Actor: Do you have uncontrollable diarrhea?  I did, and then my doctor prescribed “No-More-Poop!”  Now I feel great and don’t have to worry about embarrassing accidents. Commentator: Clinical studies done at a leading university prove that “No-More-Poop” cures 99% of ...

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With health care industry reaching unsustainable lows, media attention is on physician's relationship with the  pharmaceutical industry. A Google search will give results that paints doctors as culprits, leading to a prejudiced opinion where doctors are thought of as co-conspirators with drug companies. This article teases this tainted relationship, from a typical doctor's perspective. Pharmaceutical companies have strategies not only to survive, but also to grow with general public investing in ...

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There was important news recently on statin drugs. As one of the world’s most effective and commonly used medications, statins provide great writing topics. Lots of people have high cholesterol–including cyclists. Lots of people are interested in avoiding our mostly deadly disease. I’d like to tell you about a recently-published landmark study in the Lancet that should quell safety concerns over statin drugs. The punch line after I tell you the study’s ...

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