The blood thinner heparin is not a 21st-century cure. It was discovered 100 years ago by a scientist looking for something else entirely, and is one of the oldest drugs still in regular use. After my daughter was diagnosed with a potentially fatal blood disorder, heparin played a key daily role in her treatment. We’d wash our hands meticulously, lay out gloves and antiseptic wipes, saline flushes for the access lines ...

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It is truly unfortunate that Daniel Neides used his platform, and the reputation of a world-renowned institution like the Cleveland Clinic, to propagate fake health news. In this case, he fails to dispel the false connection between vaccines and autism: "Make 2017 the year to avoid toxins (good luck) and master your domain: Words on Wellness." As director and chief operating officer of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, Dr. Neides ...

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I spent one year working full-time as a pharmacy technician at a high-volume community pharmacy prior to entering medical school. Besides learning the intricacies of billing and the dispensing process, I was granted personal access into a world nearly all patients, but few providers are aware of.  At the time my job was just that: a job. There were fun perks like counting pills in multiples of five and visualizing ...

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When you hear people say, “I don’t want to vaccinate my kid. Why would I give them autism?” It’s hard not to get upset and meet your patients with some judgment. John and Carly were middle-class Americans that had a lot of misconceptions about vaccines — mostly from the media. They loved their two-year-old daughter Leslie and wanted the best for her. They didn’t understand that we wanted the same thing. ...

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As I sit behind a computer in my office today at the physician’s workstation, I am baffled at the steady flow of pharmaceutical representatives that flow into our office on a daily basis. Each rep comes in with a fancy glossy print detailing the data concerning their particular drug. My office is busy; patients are coming in and out, and medical assistants are busy checking vitals and verifying medications (and of ...

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The patient’s heart was beating dangerously slowly, and his EKG showed third-degree AV block: His heart’s electrical system had completely shut down in the middle.  If this were TV, the doctors would have started shouting “Epi!” and “Get the pads!” immediately.  This was real life, though, so his team decided to briefly sit down with him to try to determine why his heartbeat had slowed so dramatically.  Was it something ...

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On November 8, voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada approved ballot measures to legalize recreational cannabis. It is now legal in a total of eight states. And this creates potential problems for road safety. How do we determine who’s impaired and who’s not? The effects of alcohol vary based on a person’s size and weight, metabolism rate, related food intake and the type and amount of beverage consumed. Even so, ...

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“I’m not really a pill person.” “I was never one for all those pills.” “I don’t really like taking those pills.” “I’m not really into taking pills.” As a doctor, I hear some version of this phrase every day. It’s almost accusatory, like “Hey, Doc — don’t even think about pushing all those pills on me!” Luckily, since I am a gastroenterologist, I don’t dispense nearly as many medications as doctors in some other fields ...

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A 67-year-old patient, whom I'll call Herb, recently came to see me for a check-up for his diabetes. He has suffered from complications from diabetes in the past, and his most recent numbers -- including his A1c -- were poor. I sat down to talk with Herb, but before I could say anything, he got straight to the point. Herb lives on a fixed income. Although he has Medicare coverage, his ...

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Codeine is a terrible choice for treating children’s pain and cough, and we ought to just stop using it. It’s like an old yogurt container, way at the back of your fridge -- sure, it was once tasty, and then for a while, you held on to it for sentimental reasons. “Remember that yogurt?” you’d say to your spouse. But it’s well past time to throw that stinky stuff away. For ...

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