“Am I a hypochondriac?” It’s a question I hear with quite some regularity, almost never from people who suffer from bona fide anxiety disorders related to their health. No, the fact that all you have is a simple upper respiratory infection -- the common cold -- instead of a potentially lethal strain of H1N1 avian flu does not qualify. Not when your response to my reassurance is relief. That’s completely appropriate, and ...

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I never understood the loss of empathy during medical training. Until now. It was 4:30 a.m., and I was on the side of the road, drenched in sweat and tears. I had finally slowed my breathing to normal. I was going to be late for rounds. No time to obsess over possible questions. No time to memorize lab values, or practice regurgitating them. I thought of home. My family and friend, who I hadn’t ...

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Top stories in health and medicine, September 1, 2014From MedPage Today:

  1. ZMapp Ebola Drug Effective in Macaques. A controversial cocktail of Ebola antibodies was safe and highly effective in saving the lives of rhesus macaques, even as the animals neared death from the virus.
  2. Depression in Cancer Common But Untreated. The vast majority of clinically depressed cancer patients receive no ...

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In his piece on Robin Williams, Andrew Solomon of the New Yorker states that every 40 seconds, someone commits suicide. Actually, it's every second of every day, as people choose the action, or inaction, that will end their lives sooner. When the patient with metastatic melanoma, who is quite capable of getting to the refrigerator, refuses to take food or liquids, she is taking her life. Her body will ...

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In every life we have some trouble When you worry you make it double Don’t worry. Be happy. It will soon pass, whatever it is. Don’t worry. Be happy. – Bobby McFerrin Much has already been written in reaction to Robin Williams’ untimely death, about his incandescent talent, his prolific career, his decency and kindness, his addiction and his mental illness. His death robbed his fans of many more years of his genius ...

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When I hear debate over the association between SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, a class of antidepressant medication) and suicidal behavior in children and adolescents, I am immediately brought back to a night in the early 2000s.  As the covering pediatrician I was called to the emergency room to see a young man, a patient of a pediatrician in a neighboring town, who had attempted suicide by taking a nearly ...

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Today, I saved a life. And I wish I could tell you a story about fancy heroics -- about an exploratory laparatomy, a chest thoracostomy, or a patient that coded and I was the last person to perform the chest compressions that brought them back to life.  But I can’t.  But I can tell you that I saved a life. She was 16-years-old, and moved here four years ago from a different ...

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I was shocked and deeply saddened when my daughter announced at the dinner table that Robin Williams had died of an apparent suicide. My wife and I and the three of our children home at the time all pretty much gasped audibly in unison, and then for a moment after, you could have heard a pin drop. For a bit after that, we talked about our shock and sorrow. And then after that, ...

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We are civilized people in the United States. We don't set up leper colonies or concentration camps or psychiatric snake pits to banish people with severe mental illness. Instead we send them to jail or prison -- almost 400,000 of them, more than 10 times the number receiving care in hospitals. And we also blithely ignore the fact that additional hundreds of thousands live homeless on the streets or in ...

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Top stories in health and medicine, August 20, 2014From MedPage Today:

  1. Moving Target for BP Guidelines. The current blood pressure target recommendations may need to be revisited in hypertensive patients with coronary artery disease who are 60 years and older.
  2. Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair Rivals Surgery. Survival rates with catheter-based mitral valve repair are comparable to classic surgery and better ...

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