Your Team Made the Super Bowl? Better Get a Flu Shot

As an emergency medicine physician, popular spectator events such as the Super Bowl usually mean little more than a temporary slowing in the rate of patient arrivals, especially among males, a phenomenon described in several countries in addition to the U.S. A recent Upshot post shows that the impact of widely popular spectator events extendsContinue reading “Your Team Made the Super Bowl? Better Get a Flu Shot”

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Is it ethical to incentivize “wellness”?

In an essay on medical ethics, Harald Schmidt explores the question: is it right for employers and health plans to offer incentives to employees/members to pursue health care that is not informed by evidence?  He uses as his example several large insurers paying young (younger than 50, even younger than 40 years), low-risk women to obtain mammograms.  The evidenceContinue reading “Is it ethical to incentivize “wellness”?”

Can U pls look @ this?

The pediatrician-author-mom Perri Klass wrote a piece in this week’s Well column that will bring knowing smiles to many providers and parents reading this post. She writes about how many unofficial telemedicine consults she fields involving photos of various rashes, injuries and other physical findings taken by parents and/or teens with their mobile devices. She usesContinue reading “Can U pls look @ this?”

On Doctors Who Have Depression

Also appearing in the New York Times Upshot column, this Incidental Economist blog post on the prevalence of depression, addiction and suicidal thoughts among doctors provides a great overview of the literature.  The post is also compelling because the author draws on his own personal experience with this condition during his own residency, including this moving postContinue reading “On Doctors Who Have Depression”

Personalized preventive medicine

Much research and media attention have focused on personalized medicine.  The National Cancer Institute defines personalized medicine as “a form of medicine that uses information about a person’s genes, proteins, and environment to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease.”  Although this definition includes prevention, much of the focus of personalized medicine has been on treatments, with aContinue reading “Personalized preventive medicine”

2015 Dietary Guidelines: a gallon of lobbying and a pinch of nutrition science?

New federal dietary guidelines issued last week by the Agriculture and Health and Human Services Departments, urge Americans to drastically cut back on sugar, and for the first time have singled out teenage boys and men for eating too much meat, chicken and eggs. The biggest change is restricting added sugar: Americans consume up to 22 teaspoons aContinue reading “2015 Dietary Guidelines: a gallon of lobbying and a pinch of nutrition science?”

Limerick version of In Defense of Food

This poem is inspired by Michael Pollan’s PBS documentary In Defense of Food, available here for free viewing until the end of the month: The wisdom Michael Pollan incants– Eat food, not too much, mostly plants— Is simple declared Yet we’re easily ensnared By the food industry’s science-y dance. So here are some other wise rulesContinue reading “Limerick version of In Defense of Food”

Will prevention ever be sexy?

As a pediatric emergency medicine provider, many of the reasons patients show up in the Emergency Department are related to symptoms–a fever, cough, rash, ache, nausea, runny nose, diarrhea, etc.  What is this causing it? What will make it go away as soon as possible? A commentary on NPR’s Shots series notes that, often, despiteContinue reading “Will prevention ever be sexy?”

Times Square and Influenza

On this New Year’s Eve, I wanted to share this factoid from the CDC on the benefits of influenza vaccination in the 2014-15 flu season.  As you see the nearly one million people counting down to 2016 in Times Square, remember that the flu vaccine prevents that many people from needing medical visits in oneContinue reading “Times Square and Influenza”

Vaccine-preventable illness

As a pediatric emergency medicine provider in a state with a high proportions of vaccine-refusers, I often treat vaccine-preventable infections. This week was no exception, with one of the cases particularly severe. A New York Times piece reminds us that vaccine refusal is most prevalent in white, higher income regions. The lowering of herd immunityContinue reading “Vaccine-preventable illness”