Even more than the stethoscope or the black bag, perhaps nothing symbolizes the medical profession more than the white coat. Medical students enter the profession with a "white coat ceremony," and patients see a doctor in a white coat as a trusted authority.

Historically, doctors wore white coats to act as a barrier against disease and infection. However, that assumption has been contradicted recently, by numerous studies showing ...

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A byproduct of the anti-vaccination movement is chickenpox parties.

"My 7-year-old daughter has been to six of these parties. Unfortunately, we have not caught the pox yet, but I'm keeping my eye out for more parties," says a concerned parent.

Some believe that natural immunity produces a higher level of antibodies, and thus, longer-lasting immunity. Which is true. However, they fail to realize the ...

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With the economy worsening, health reform appears to be taking a back seat.

Or is it?

Bob Doherty sounds the alarm, citing the contentious opposition to reauthorizing SCHIP, which once enjoyed bipartisan support.

Several outlets are also reporting that prominent politicians, including Pete Stark and Max Baucus, have privately admitted that comprehensive health reform will be pushed back until 2010.

MedPage Today somewhat concurs ...

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I find it interesting that single payer supporters are so inflexible in their vision of what health reform should be like.

Progressive blogger Ezra Klein says that the opponents of single payer supporters actually are moderate Democrats, rather than the right. "Their enemies are on the left," writes Mr. Klein. "Their targets tend not to be those blocking reform, but those promoting the wrong type of reform."

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Despite faring poorly in metrics that compares the American health care system with other countries, the public may fear the unknown that radical change brings.

Prominent economist Uwe Reinhardt (via The Health Care Blog) provides some insight in a recent interview.

There is little question that the United States provides the best specialist-based care in the world. As Mr. Reinhardt says, "people imagine having ...

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More patients are being referred to as consumers, and some don't agree with the connotation.

"That puts a bigger emphasis on how much profit the patient can make a company, which can lead to less-than-optimal decisions on behalf of the patient later on," says diabetes blogger Manny Hernandez.

However, patients are now encouraged to advocate on their own behalf, and entities like high deductible health plans and health ...

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Many of the country's large-scale health systems, like Kaiser Permanente, the Mayo Clinic or the VA, operate at a greater cost-efficiency when compared to a traditional practice.

Currently, however, they are an exception to the norm. Most doctors are affiliated with small-group practices, with little interaction between each other. That is one reason why care is so fragmented, with only a minority of doctors using electronic medical ...

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The FDA advisory committee voted to ban Darvon, generically known as propoxyphene, in the United States.

MedPage Today reports on the 14-12 vote, which was prompted by numerous fatal overdoses, and non-fatal complications, as well as questioning its efficacy.

Anti-pharmaceutical crusader Sidney Wolfe made his presence felt, as he presented data claiming that in 2007, according to data gathered from emergency departments, "503 deaths were 'related' ...

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Or is it a declining number of doctors refusing the accept certain insurances, or subject themselves to the abuses of the health system?

Emergency physician WhiteCoat cites a number of stories where patients are not receiving timely access to care.

In one, which I alluded to last week, parents unable to find pediatricians in California willing to accept Medi-Cal. As he wryly observes, "the fact [is] that ...

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Doctors are increasingly using social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook, and Sermo.

A recent study showed that 60 percent of doctors use, or are about to use, various Web 2.0 applications. That's no surprise.

The unexpected finding was that physicians who reported they used social media prescribed 24 more medications each week when compared to their peers who reported that they did not.

So that begs ...

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