Recently, the CDC announced that its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to stop recommending the nasal spray flu vaccine, FluMist, for anyone. Bottom line: it doesn’t work. Though their recommendation against the use of FluMist still has to be approved by the CDC director to make it “official,” it’s pretty much a done deal. The AAP’s president has already endorsed the announcement, too. Bye, Flumist. We’ll ...

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We’ve heard it before: Antibiotics just don’t work for viral infections. Docs know this, and I think most patients know this, but it’s an addiction we’ve had a hard time shaking. Docs overprescribe because it’s fast, it’s easy, and it (might) increase patient satisfaction and return visits. That’s led to a cycle of reinforcing expectations from patients -- who, after all, keep feeling better after the antibiotics. Of course, they do. ...

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“Customer service” is the new buzzword in health care. (Yes, I know it’s two words. Stay with me here.) Health care has become a service industry, like a restaurant or a company that comes to your home to replace a broken windshield. The shrimp is too salty, or the tech left footprints on your floor mat? You complain, and you send the shrimp back, and the tech apologizes and says ...

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A reader writes: “Grunting baby syndrome. Is this really a thing? My 6-week-old son grunts, strains, and writhes from approximately 3 to 6 a.m. every night. Most of the time he sleeps through it. My GP suspects reflux but ranitidine has not helped. Also, he’s very happy/calm all day rarely fusses or cries. My Google searching came across grunting baby syndrome. Is that a real thing? When do babies grow out of ...

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Science, to use the term correctly, isn’t a body of knowledge or a bunch of facts written up on a whiteboard by a crazy-haired professor. It’s a method, or way of figuring out things. Thinking and reading and learning from experts are all important, sure. But real science relies on experimentation. First, make an educated guess about how something works. Then design an experiment to test your guess. (I’m oversimplifying here. ...

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There’s been a push lately for more explicit labeling of foods -- to make sure that consumers know that what they’re buying is organic, or free-range, or natural, or GMO-free, etc. But these labels don’t tell the whole story. Sometimes, they’re outright lies. For instance, “organic” veggies still contain plenty of pesticides. There are the natural pesticides that ordinarily occur in food, plus the organic-OK chemical pesticides that are ...

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Spend spend spend -- that’s the push by marketers and websites this time of year. Except from me. Here are three holiday gift things nobody needs. Save your money, or buy something else if you must, but stay away from today’s featured items: 1. Crib bumpers. The American Academy of Pediatrics has called for banning these things since 2007, but they’re still sold. And they’re still killing babies. A November ...

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I’m struck, sometimes, by the vehement tone of some of the antivaccine comments you see out there. People who hate or distrust vaccines proudly proclaim that their Googling and life experiences have taught them that vaccines are bad. They don’t care what the science or the evidence shows. They know what they know. Me? I’m not so much into vehemence and dogmatism. I’ll follow the evidence. Show me solid science that ...

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An August, 2015 study in Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine is being touted as evidence that homeopathy is as effective as antibiotics for respiratory infections in children. It doesn’t show that at all -- in fact, it doesn’t show anything, except that crappy studies in crappy journals can nonetheless be used to manipulate opinion. Beware. First, the study itself. Researchers in Italy looked at about 90 children with ordinary colds. All ...

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It turns out that the entire transition to the new ICD10 code set was just a joke perpetrated by a 13-year-old boy. “I mean, who would take it seriously?” said RancheroBoy, using his screen name from MedicalCoders.com. He agreed to speak with us only on the condition that we not use his real name. Hospitals and physicians’ offices nationwide were required to transition to the ICD10 code set for all diagnostic reporting ...

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