Why do drugs cost so much? Drug prices are a difficult issue to write about because real data about the workings of pharmaceutical companies is very difficult to uncover. Still, I came face to face with something that seemed extremely not right and so I feel I should at least make some comment. It started when I prescribed a patient sumatriptan for her recently more frequent migraines. ...

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In the midst of a lumbar puncture: Thinking of Stevie Nicks Like most second-year medical students, I have the MP3 files of Goljan’s high yield pathology review lectures on my phone. Unlike most medical students, I rarely bring myself to listen to them, always opting for their Motown or punk counterparts instead. I often feel guilty about this -- listening to them would make for more efficient car rides and walks home -- ...

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Cheryl loved to dance.  There wasn't a time in our house when the the kids weren't jumping up and down on the furniture, the radio blasting, and her body swaying in rhythm.  Ironically, we were dancing when it happened.  It was her fortieth birthday.  The kids laughed and clapped as I dipped her dramatically and she sprung back into my arms.  And then she crumpled.  Tony, my youngest, giggled hysterically ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 42-year-old man is evaluated for a 6-day history of severe burning and stabbing pain in both feet that is worse in the toes. The pain is more severe at night, is aggravated when the bed sheets touch his skin, and is partially relieved when he walks or massages his feet. The ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 30-year-old woman is evaluated for episodic migraine without aura that first presented in high school and has persisted into the third trimester of her current pregnancy. The headache attacks occur two to four times monthly and last 12 to 24 hours. She experiences moderately severe pain, significant nausea, no vomiting, and ...

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The ALS wave has finished sweeping the nation, resulting in a flood of over $100 million raised to fight a devastating disease which is actually quite rare. Now that gallons of ice water have drenched American’s bikinis and trunks, we should be asking ourselves two questions. First, does everyone really understand more about the disease now that the challenge is over? Second, and more importantly, what lessons can we learn ...

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The ALS ice bucket challenge, better known as #ALSIceBucketChallenge or #icebucketchallenge, was almost the perfect storm for viral fundraising. In my course, Designing Health Campaigns Using Social Media at Tufts University, we analyzed why the challenge went viral. Not surprisingly, given its popularity, my students had all heard about it and watched challenge videos. About half had done it. Some researched amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and ...

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Thanks to the popularity of medical television shows, most people have witnessed hundreds of fictional cardiac arrests in their lifetime. In most of these scenes, the patient loses consciousness, and the medical team rushes to the bedside: “He’s in v-fib.” “Get me the paddles.” The team performs urgent chest compressions for a few seconds.  Then they place the metal paddles on the victim’s chest: “Clear!”  Kathump. The patient’s heart is back to normal again, tragedy ...

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Back-to-school shopping, new sneakers and first-day outfits, sharpened pencils and fresh notebooks in oversized backpacks by the door: As a parent, these are the images I’ve come to associate with the start of every school year. But with my 20-plus-year history as a developmental pediatrician specializing in autism at Albert Einstein’s Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center, I have an added association with the start of the school year: a particular type of ...

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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a truly horrible illness. It is a progressive fatal neurodegenerative disorder that leads to worsening muscle weakness. Weakness in the limbs initially makes handwriting sloppy and makes it hard to button clothes and eventually causes paralysis. Patients also develop weakness in the muscles that control swallowing and speech, eventually requiring them to use feeding tubes and computer text-to-speech software. Eventually the ...

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