Why do doctors abuse prescription drugs? If you thought the answer was "Because life is an unrelenting series of brutalizing emotions and memories and regrets and even in those rare moments when you forget just exactly how awful things are and you are almost relaxed enough to enjoy a short spell of, if not exactly happiness, at least not feeling like each and every wall is closing in and the end is near and the pain will never stop, there is still a small voice in the back of your brain that pops up to say, 'Hey, don't forget about trouble, because it will surely find you, and it [...]
Abraham Lincoln is the biggest action hero in Hollywood these days, with his character starring in such recent blockbusters as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the Steven Spielberg movie about Lincoln's quieter side, and probably Django Unchained. As so often happens when a film captures the heart of America, a neurobiology professor at the University of Mississippi saw Lincoln and wondered if slavery was still allowed where he lives and works.
Dr. Ranjan Batra immigrated to the United States from India and became a U.S. citizen four years ago. With the zeal typical of the new citizen, Batra asked somebody to look on a website, which led to the discovery that [...]
In the light of this week’s controversy over whether or not coffee makes you smarter, Jonah Lehrer’s "The Truth Wears Off" in the New Yorker seems particularly well-timed. (Lehrer discussed this in-depth here last night.) His topic is the “decline effect,” in which the positive results of an experiment are less and less able to be replicated over time, and he paints a picture of the scientific community as a self-reenforcing echo chamber. Like FOX News, sort of. Not because they’re terrible people, scientists (or because they're all Democrats!) but just because they are people. And people like to be proven right, not wrong. And [...]
The guy arrested last night for the so-called Craigslist murder of a 26-year-old masseuse in Boston is a 22-year-old medical student at Boston University named Phil Markoff, who was engaged to be married in August to a woman he met while volunteering at a hospital in upstate New York. He proposed last May on a horse and carriage ride in Connecticut. The Boston Globe also has the obligatory "but he seemed like such a nice guy" article, though one student does give this somewhat unnerving quote: "He seemed to kind of get things. . . . I kind of had him pegged as a surgeon because he [...]
Today is a terrible day to get stabbed in Britain. I mean, assuming you want to live. Which, if you're in Britain, may not be the correct assumption. Actually, I can understand the upside to suddenly seeing the quick glint of a blade and then a fade to black, with the comforting realization that you no longer need to waste time in that gray, vomit-encrusted hellhole they pretend is a civilized country. Plus, you know how the whole baby thing turned out, so, really, you're not waiting around for anything else now. Come to think of it, you're probably better off going out there to get stabbed today. The [...]
"Physical exams are one of the most common and familiar medical procedures in the world. A sweeping new study suggests they might also be the most worthless. Researchers at the Cochrane Review looked at more than 16 studies with 182,880 patients – all of whom were offered a general check up, but only some of whom who accepted. Those patients were followed between four and 22 years, depending on the study, to look at death rates for each group. The big takeaway: 'There was no effect on the risk of death, or on the risk of death due to cardiovascular diseases or cancer.'" —Oh, I feel so much [...]
"Changing the message from 'Wash Your Hands to Protect Yourself' to 'Wash Your Hands to Protect Your Patients,' the study found, could motivate some doctors and nurses to wash their hands more frequently." —I guess. Or, you know, they could just start putting doctors who don't wash their hands on a month's unpaid leave. OR! They could forcibly graft a nice hospital-acquired staph infection onto their faces maybe. I don't know: if doctors aren't getting the practice of washing hands between patients, should they even be doctors? Sorry, I know all workplace best practices are hard! But this question of "motivation" seems absurd.
Something about the combination of Ted Kennedy being concerned about the forthcoming vacancy of his Senate seat (because of, perhaps, his own forthcoming vacancy) and the big palliative care article in the Times was, unsurprisingly, totally gloom-inducing! For instance, this part: "In one study by Dr. Christakis, doctors who privately believed that patients had 75 days to live told them they had 90; the actual median survival period was 26 days." I am never going to see my doctor again! Who is younger than me. And totally a liar, no doubt. Although before that, when I went to see a gay doctor who was like 15 years older [...]