We want competent physicians, but we also want compassionate ones. How do we get them? Is it nature or is it nurture? Is it more important to search out more compassionate students, or should we instill compassion somehow in the ones we start along the training pipeline? I think the answer lies in nurturing what nature has already put there. My background is in pediatric critical care, which I have practiced ...

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Anyone who has worked in medicine for a long time well understands the power of the statement coming from an experienced person: “This kid looks sick.” That person could be a physician or nurse. Years of experience does tend to give one a sort of sixth sense for when to worry something serious is going on that just hasn’t shown itself fully yet. Seasoned parents can often provide the same ...

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The recent prominence of the #MeToo movement has shined a light at many places in our society where insidious or even obvious sexism against women has long gone unremarked. Even when noticed it’s just shrugged off as the way things are. In honor of this, #MeToo was named Person of the Year for 2017 by Time Magazine. Medicine is no exception to this pervasive problem. A very interesting recent essay in the New ...

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Most physicians are increasingly forced to grapple with the problem of shortages in generic drugs. These are drugs for which the patent has expired and any company can make them. Certainly for those of us in the PICU it is a chronic problem because the majority of drugs we use are injectable medications that have been generic for many years. Hardly a week goes by I don’t receive a notification ...

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Vaccines have been hailed by virtually all medical experts, as well as medical historians, as the among the greatest triumphs of public health to occur in the past two centuries. Yet since Jenner first proposed vaccination for smallpox using the vaccinia, or cowpox, virus there have been both skeptics of its effectiveness and people who thought it was dangerous. That is, they had the risk/benefit ratio of vaccination exactly backwards, ...

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recent article and accompanying commentary in the journal Pediatrics describe what we currently know about children who have died from influenza over the past decade or more. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has collected information about this since the 2003-2004 influenza season. In that first report, there were 153 deaths. Since then there have been at least 100 influenza deaths annually among children. Several characteristics have not changed. ...

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We’ve known for some time the prevalence of obesity is growing among Americans -- not just adults, but children, too. Obesity is associated with a long list of medical problems, including heart and other vascular diseases, diabetes, and joint problems. It is encouraging that recently the seemingly inexorable growth of pediatric obesity prevalence seems to have reached a plateau. But we still have a future problem looming for population health as ...

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I majored in history of religion in college and have always had an interest in the places various twists and turns of theology can lead people. One relatively recent wrinkle is what has been loosely termed "prosperity gospel" or "prosperity theology." It’s built upon the basic notion good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people. Of course, that’s a foundational viewpoint of much of Christianity in the ...

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Most experienced pediatric intensivists, myself included, have encountered situations in which we, the doctors, believe continuing to support a child is unethical because it is not saving the life but prolonging the dying; whereas the child’s parents believe the opposite -- that it is unethical to withdraw life support because all life is sacred, no matter the circumstances. Sometimes these situations arise because poor communication causes families to distrust the ...

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Humans evolved with the constant force of the earth’s gravity. This is relevant to several of our organs, but the brain’s anatomy makes it especially important. The brain floats in spinal fluid encased inside the closed box of the skull. Gravity would be expected to affect the details of that. Indeed, studies of people who spent prolonged periods of time in bed in a head down position indicate this abnormal ...

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