One commonly heard propositions to combat the obesity epidemic is to tax soft drinks. No doubt, sugary soft drinks are a common and important source of “empty” calories, but will taxing soft drinks really reduce obesity rates? This assumption was now examined by Yale University’s Jason Fletcher and colleagues, in a paper just published in Contemporary Economic Policy. The researchers collected information on taxation of soft drinks with respect to specific excise ...

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Mr. B, the patient who first stirred my interest in family medicine, was a spry former World War Two fighter pilot who came to the ER complaining of an irregular heart beat. I remember him regaling me with stories about the Battle of Britain while his wife dutifully stood by his side in the chaos of the crowded emergency room at a private hospital affiliated with my medical school. It was ...

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To celebrate your 50th birthday you head to your doctor’s office to get your yearly exam. He rewards you for your diligence by poking and prodding you, sticking you with needles, and arranging for a colonoscopy (happy birthday!). He also sends you for a stress test out of concern about your strong family history of premature heart disease. A slightly abnormal treadmill test leads to ...

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An article in the Wall Street JournalTaking Medical Jargon Out of Doctor Visits, emphasizes that the use of medical jargon leads to poor communication between physicians and patients, and consequently leads to ineffective medical care. Federal and state officials are now pushing healthcare professionals to use simpler language to communicate medical advice to patients. I could not agree more with this mission. The gap ...

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It is hard to believe that those we love will die. We can't bear it. It's too harsh, too complicated, too fraught with emotional baggage and unfinished business and things never said. It's too final. Dead is dead, after all. From the moment of our birth, we are dying. Death can be painful, tragic, too soon, too quick, too slow, too easy, or too hard. So we soften it up a bit. She ...

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First aid is defined as the immediate care given to an acutely injured or ill person.  It can literally be life-saving so it behooves all of us to know some basic principles. What follows are some rules that cover common conditions and general practices:

  1. Don’t panic.  Panic clouds thinking and causes mistakes.  When I was an intern and learning what to do when confronted with an unresponsive patient, a wise resident advised ...

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How can patients get a straight answer from a doctor? The answer is really very simple: Don’t accept a non-answer answer from a doctor on a question that really matters to you! If you get a dodgy, vague, or useless answer don’t take it lying down. Politely insist that the doctor elaborate and clarify until you get a reply that you understand. We doctors are totally scary, but if you have to have ...

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Diana Cole told me, “The internet saved my life,” and recounted a story about using the internet to identify a bat bite and learn about rabies in bats, leading to an emergency room trip. She later introduced me to her sister, Carolyn Kingston, who attributed her successful outcome from hip replacement surgery to her use of the internet. I asked Carolyn about her general use of the internet for health, her ...

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by James Merlino, MD The patient experience is the right thing to do, and a business necessity. But improving it is not necessarily easy. The fact is, large medical centers are at a real disadvantage when it comes to performing well on HCAHPS. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) do not discriminate or differentiate the scores of small community hospitals from those of large academic tertiary care ...

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This item has nothing to do with OpenNotes itself – it’s what I’m seeing now that I’ve started accessing my doctor’s notes. In short, I see the clinical impact of not viewing my record as a shared working document. Here’s the story. In OpenNotes, patient participants can see the visit notes their primary physicians entered. Note – primary, not specialists. I imagine they needed to keep the study design simple. So, ...

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