It’s January 2016. News stories have inspired significant anxiety about Zika virus. It’s a scary topic because news about the outbreaks are just unfolding, and this affects an already anxious group: pregnant mamas and expecting families. I want to share with you real-time information and data to try to alleviate anxiety and educate the best I can. I suspect with time some of this will change. I’ve curated the most common questions and answers ...

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Every business on earth has an angle on the market.  Business leaders around the world work tirelessly, attempting to edge out their competitors by delivering the best service to their customers. When all is said and done, physicians want to deliver the best care they can to each patient.  As medical students who are eager to serve, we are committed to examining the space where business and medicine intertwine ...

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There is no doubt that Zika is causing worldwide hysteria as a rapidly spreading virus with potential of pandemic proportions. The virus is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also carries both dengue fever and yellow fever. While a relatively innocuous virus with 80 percent of those affected being asymptomatic, mild symptoms of illness such as fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis are associated. The most worrisome outcome of this ...

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When my twin sons were born prematurely at 26 weeks’ gestation, my family’s lives were thrust into the whirlwind of the NICU and living daily with the reality of the babies (William and Elliott) being on life support. Having had no prior intense and prolonged experiences with the hospital, and watching helplessly and fretfully as my tiny two-pounders fought for their lives, it’s almost impossible to put into language what ...

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As I sat in my hospice interdisciplinary group meeting, reviewing the many patients who have died in the past two weeks as well as our new patients, there was a slight break in the discussion. Being ever the multitasker, I clicked on a New York Times article I had been meaning to read and scanned the first two sentences:  “When my husband died from cancer last March at age 37, ...

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Software has opinions. No, I’m not talking about opinions on the next presidential election or opinions about flossing before or after brushing. Software has opinions about how data should be displayed, opinions about users’ comfort with the mouse, even, in some cases, opinions about what you should have for dinner (see your local on-demand food ordering service). We tend to view software as a tool that is either good or bad. ...

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Dear medical professionals: We need to talk. I know I walk into your office fearing the worst of you, and I suspect that you may have some hesitation about some of your patients. (Need I say, "frequent flyers?") We both have baggage. You have your patient horror stories. I -- as a female patient with fibromyalgia and mental health issues -- have mine. My mom is a nurse, so I've grown up with ...

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The promise that information technology holds for health care is, quite literally, amazing. So far, it has enabled us to get rid of paper charts (not to mention the age-old problem of illegible doctors’ handwriting), negated the need to trawl through mountains of files to find old clinical data, and introduced much-needed safety improvements such as medication alerts. But anyone practicing at the frontlines of medicine over the last few years ...

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Health care in America is fracturing right down the middle, and doctors are going to have to figure out if or how long they can straddle the divide between what patients want and what the government and corporate America want them to have. Up until this point, the momentum has been with the payers, Medicare, and the insurance industry. But the more heavy-handed they become, the more inevitable the public backlash ...

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This past summer an article in USA Today talked about Regina Holliday’s efforts to make the medical record more easily and promptly available to patients, so it becomes as a tool patients use as they engage in co-managing their own care. Her cause is just, and her story is compelling, so I was dismayed at the pushback saying: Not so fast. There are lots of errors and ambiguities in the record, ...

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A grandmother develops a boil that turns out to be a difficult-to-treat staph infection (MRSA). She needs high-powered antibiotics. A middle-aged man who received a blood transfusion decades ago now has hepatitis C and needs anti-viral medicine. A young woman with HIV develops golf-ball-size lesions in her brain, has toxoplasmosis and needs anti-parasite medicine. The marvel of medicine today is that we can treat all three infections, and save the lives ...

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In neurology clinic, I was asked to see a young man with epilepsy -- a seizure disorder -- due to cerebral palsy from birth. It was one of my first clinical encounters of my first rotation of medical school, the tenuous transition from knowledge-absorber to translator and caretaker. I walked in to find a patient who was wheelchair-bound and largely non-verbal, and who interacted with the world by tracking gaze ...

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Thomas Hobbes described life as pitifully “nasty, brutish, and short.” Thanks to the free market and the state, life is no longer a Hobbesian nightmare. But death has become nasty, brutish, and long. Surgeon and writer, Atul Gawande, explores the medicalization of ageing and death in Being Mortal. Gawande points to a glaring deficiency in medical education. Taught to save lives and fight death, doctors don’t bow out gracefully and ...

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"Hey, Rick. They warned you about me, I hope?" My routine med student opening line elicits a slight smile from my balding forty-two-year-old patient and the patient's wife. As we shake hands, I continue the script. "I'm Nat -- the medical student. What brings you in today?" "Well, I'd like to transfer my care to this clinic. We've brought my medical records." Together, they heave stacks of papers onto the desk. Rick's hands slide ...

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comicfinal In 2006, graduate nursing programs started granting doctorates of nursing practice (DNP degrees). In a media fact sheet, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) explains the thrust for the change this way:

Some of the many factors building momentum for change in nursing education at the graduate level include: the rapid expansion of knowledge underlying practice; increased complexity of ...

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A patient came to the office and refused to see me, although I was quite willing to see him. I’ll present the scenario followed by the patient’s reason he took an abrupt U-turn. Then, if you are inclined, you may offer your own advice and comment. I performed a colonoscopy on this patient and found a large polyp in the upper part of the large intestine, or colon. The upper part ...

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Everywhere you go, you can see people from all walks of life sporting some pretty cool tattoos. Tattoos are so popular nowadays that they’re almost conformist. I consider myself really hip since I don’t have any tattoos; how avant-garde! However, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate good ink when I see it. As a matter of fact, I even dabble as a tattooist sometimes. It is common practice to leave a permanent tattoo at ...

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I woke up to someone forwarding this tweet. Yes, some company is selling tiny bags of herbs (they call them pearls) to stuff in the vagina for three days to cleanse your uterus or shrink your fibroids or treat bacterial vaginosis or tighten your vagina. This is not only pointless it could be very dangerous. Here’s why. Your uterus and vagina want you to leave them alone. Your uterus isn’t tired or ...

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asco-logo I run a dilator program for women with rectal or anal cancer where I educate patients about the need for and correct use of vaginal dilators to mitigate the effects of radiation on the vaginal wall. Many women don’t understand the need for dilators after radiation for this cancer, so I always start with a description of the anatomy and ...

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Picture this: You’re in the operating room, performing a challenging procedure. (If you’re not a doctor, roll with me here and play along. You’ll get it soon.) You’re feeling pretty good about how the surgery is going. You’re grateful that your usual team is with you, because that always makes you feel more confident. Then something happens … Right at the most critical part of the procedure, crisis ensues and the instrument you’re using ...

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