When I first learned to take care of patients in the hospital, as a third-year medical student, we used a mnemonic to help us remember what to order when a patient was first admitted. Patients would come in to the hospital from a doctor's office or from the emergency room and the nurses needed a set of orders to know what to do for the patient. The mnemonic we used ...

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I recently got back from a brief trip to Florida. I went down there to celebrate my mother’s 85th birthday. As you might expect, her social circle has shrunk in recent years, but she did get a number of cards and calls from friends and family members. The cards were on display in her kitchen, and a few calls came in while I was there. One in particular pointed out some ...

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The health care industrial complex is stronger than ever Walking to the 2014 Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) Scientific Sessions recently, I couldn't help but marvel how beautiful San Francisco was. The weather was perfect, the streets bustling, the quaint shops and eateries doing brisk business in a very hip metropolitan city with a distinctive West Coast vibe. As I walked up to the Moscone Conference Center, I was struck by ...

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It’s a leading cause of death and disability in the U.S., leading to hundreds of thousands of preventable heart attacks, strokes and failed kidneys each year. About one-third of all American adults have it, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and it costs the nation about $50 billion annually to treat it and its complications. “It” is high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. It is a symptomless, silent killer. There are ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 63-year-old man is evaluated for pleuritic left-sided anterior chest pain, which has persisted intermittently for 1 week. The pain lasts for hours at a time and is not provoked by exertion or relieved by rest but is worse when supine. He reports transient relief with acetaminophen and codeine and occasionally when ...

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“Can you hear it?” she asked with a smile. The thin, pleasant lady seemed as struck by her murmur as I was. She was calm, perhaps amused by the clumsy second-year medical student listening to her heart. “Yes, yes I can,” I replied, barely concealing my excitement. We had just learned about the heart sounds in class. This was my first time hearing anything abnormal on a patient, though it was ...

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In November of last year the American Heart Association released to recommendations on who should be taking statins (drugs like Lipitor/atorvastatin), the most common medicines we use to control cholesterol levels. High cholesterol levels are associated with higher risk of heart attacks and strokes, and taking statins, which lower cholesterol, can reduce those risks. The drugs have pretty significant side effects, though, and not everyone with high cholesterol or ...

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Barron Lerner thinks he understands doctor's motives.  In his recent article in the Atlantic he laments that physicians act on tradition and emotion over adopting new science.  In defense of his position, he sites the example of how cardiologists use angioplasty and coronary artery bypass to treat coronary disease. He states,

... cardiologists have been remarkably slow to abandon the old hypothesis, continuing to perform hundreds of thousands of bypass operations and ...

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I felt a little sad when I read a piece in the New England Journal of Medicine about the introduction of point-of-care ultrasound in medical education. In it, two cardiologists from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital review the promise and some of the challenges of incorporating hand held ultrasonography into medical education and, more broadly, into medical practice. For those of you unfamiliar with the technology, this is not ...

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Back in 1986, the Health Care Financing Administration launched the brave new era of quality reporting in this country by releasing "report cards" that detailed hospital-specific, risk-adjusted mortality rates for coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery. Since that time, the number and type of publicly reported quality outcomes has grown exponentially with the goal of helping patients make informed decisions when selecting doctors, thereby driving quality improvement by doctors and hospitals. Has ...

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