I’ve written before about how children from poor families have a higher chance of needing PICU care than do children from more affluent families. Eligibility for Medicaid is a good marker for this; nearly half the population of most urban PICUs is made up of children on Medicaid, even though the national average (it varies a little from state to state) for children on Medicaid is about 25%. So poor kids are ...

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I was a medical researcher for several decades, investigating an unusual, but not rare, condition called infective endocarditis. I found the disease fascinating, primarily because of how understanding it could unlock many secrets of the endothelial cell, the cells lining all our blood vessels. I chose my research subject because it interested me and I thought I could do some good studying it. This is the case for ...

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There are some important new recommendations about tonsillectomy — taking out the tonsils — as a treatment for recurrent strep throats. Some of us can recall a time when getting your tonsils out was one of the rites of passage of childhood. Usually a related procedure is added — an adenoidectomy, removing the adenoids as well. It’s called a T&A in the medical world, and it’s one of the ...

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I went off to medical school thirty-seven years ago. For the era, I went to what folks regarded as a very progressive place. It had a curriculum that was quite revolutionary for the time. Among other things, we started having interactions with actual patients during our first year, rather than the third year, as was traditional then. These days many, probably most, medical schools ...

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We badly need effectiveness research — which medical treatments work and which ones don’t. After all, some reasonable estimates are that a third or so what we spend on medical treatments is for things that aren’t known to work, or worse, don’t work. Effectiveness research means comparing two competing therapies to see which works better; if both work the same, our preference ...

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When it comes to football season,  it’s time to think about sports injuries. We frequently have children admitted to the PICU (or to what we call the intermediate or step-down unit) for observation, typically overnight, who have struck their head. They have had concussions. What is a concussion, and what does it mean for the child? The term itself is centuries old, but even thirty-five years ago, when I was in ...

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The electronic medical record, the EMR, is upon us. For those of us who learned medicine entirely with paper charts, some have enthusiastically embraced the EMR and some have refused, to the extent they can, to deal with it at all. But most of us have plowed ahead into learning how to use it as best we can. It seems to me that the degree of enthusiasm physicians show for the ...

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I’ve worked in hospitals since I was 16 years old — 42 years ago now. I was first an orderly, then a nurse’s aid, then a practical nurse, and a finally a surgical technician before I became a physician. When I started, female nurses wore caps, the details of which identified which nursing school they had graduated from, as well as a pin that gave the same information. They wore starched, ...

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