Friday, May 31, 2013

3-D Printer May Print Functioning Human Hearts!

My thoughts on this fascinating invention:  As a follow up to the post about the boy who was saved by a part made with a 3-D printer, I'd just like to share what these printers are potentially capable of creating.  Though the boy was saved by a very small, simple piece, it must be much more complex to create a working heart!  I know that stem cell researchers make a big deal of how they may be able to form human parts, but this seems like a fair alternative, especially since it has already been done in mice.  Here's what I want to know now: Is anyone doing this with brains?  I think the brain is one of the most complicated, least understood organs in the body.  What if this helps to recreate parts of the brain that have been destroyed by strokes and other diseases?  Though hearts are important, I think the brain is what makes us human, and current treatments for brain diseases do not seem to be very effective.  Should we turn the 3-D printer over to brain researchers?  Feel free to comment.


Researchers closing in on printing 3-D hearts

Parts already worked in mice, and doctor projects it'll take a decade for humans

Stuart Williams, director of the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute in Louisville, Ky., was on the forefront of three-dimensional printing when he worked in Arizona and is now working on research into printing tissues such as heart valves.
Stuart Williams, director of the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute in Louisville, Ky., was on the forefront of three-dimensional printing when he worked in Arizona and is now working on research into printing tissues such as heart valves. / Michael Clevenger/The Courier-Journal, Louisville,
Written by
Laura Ungar
The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal

LOUISVILLE, KY. — Researcher Stuart Williams is not talking about a far-off, science-fiction effort when he describes how scientists will create new, functioning human hearts — using cells and a 3-D printer.
The project is among the most ambitious in the growing field of three-dimensional printing that some say could revolutionize medicine.
“We think we can do it in 10 years — that we can build, from a patient’s own cells, a total ‘bioficial’ heart,” said Williams, executive and scientific director of the Cardiovascular Innovation Institute. The institute is a collaboration between the University of Louisville and the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence.
Known for creating products as diverse as car parts and action figures, 3-D printing also is being used to create models of human bones and organs, medical devices, personalized prosthetics and now, human tissues. Williams describes the process as taking a three-dimensional structure “and essentially cloning it, using a printer.”


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Should Doctors Get Drug and Alcohol Tests?

My thoughts on the below article:  Though many doctors clearly do not do drugs, I wouldn't be surprised to find a good number of them who do.  I can't tell you how many professionals I've seen, in all sorts of fields, who have acted ironically, for example, charitable organizations which are headed by overpaid executives, or judges who have been caught drinking and driving.  Therefore, I think that doctors should be tested.  I have heard that some medical students take Adderall and other study drugs, so there might be some illegal drug use.  But an even bigger problem may be drinking too much - alcohol tests should be given special consideration.  Considering the stress of a doctor's job, it may be difficult to find any relief, except through drugs and alcohol.  Perhaps hospitals and other health organizations can create therapies specifically designed for doctors.  This way, it could prevent doctors and medical students from starting drugs and help them to stop.  Any other possible solutions?  Feel free to comment.


Should doctors get random drug tests?

May 10, 2013 8:05 am by | 0 Comments
blood urine testBALTIMORE - What if your doctor smoked marijuana and then performed surgery on you?
Not a comforting thought, but it could happen.
That is why two Johns Hopkins doctors and patient safety experts say hospitals should make alcohol and drug tests mandatory for physicians.
The doctors shared their views in a commentary published online April 29 in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
They say doctors should also be tested if a patient dies suddenly or is unexpectedly injured during surgery.
"Patients might be better protected from preventable harm. Physicians and employers may experience reduced absenteeism, unintentional adverse events, injuries, and turnover, and early identification of a debilitating problem," wrote the authors of the study: Dr. Julius Cuong Pham, an emergency medicine physician at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Dr. Peter J. Pronovost, director of the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality. Dr. Gregory E. Skipper of the drug and alcohol treatment center Promises, in Santa Monica, Calif., also contributed.
If a doctor is found to be impaired the hospital could suspend or revoke his or her medical license and report the incident to the state licensing board, the authors wrote. This would all help protect patients, the doctors said.
Read more:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

UChicago Researchers Discover Eye Contact is Essential in Doctor-Patient Relationship

My comments on the article:  I'm very pleased that researchers have bothered to study communication in the medical field - though it may appear small, it also may involve tremendous consequences.  For example, a great number of patients do not regularly take their medications.  Eye contact may help patients obey their doctors' commands, reducing the severity of diseases and illnesses.  Not to mention, some of the elderly may have even more trouble following orders  - these patients may even forget that they had a prescription!  Hence, I hope that eye contact also helps the physician understand the patients' needs.  This way, he or she can develop a plan that would enable patients to remember to take their medications.  Considering the aging population, it is especially important that we train doctors to build upon their communication skills.  The one thing the article did not emphasize much was touch.  Should doctors gently touch their patients to communicate with them, or is this too awkward?  Maybe it is part of the process if they have to take their patients' blood pressures and heart beats.  But is there something else to this?  Feel free to comment.


Seeing Eye to Eye With Your Physician

From job interviews to first dates and conversations with our friends, we know how important eye contact is for making a positive impression. The same goes for doctor’s visits—making meaningful eye contact is a crucial skill for doctors to help show empathy and make patients feel that they understand and care about their needs.
Positive feelings are one thing. But does eye contact make any difference in clinical outcomes for patients?
Rita Gorawara-Bhat, PhD, senior staff scientist in the Section of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine, researches the ways both verbal and nonverbal communication between physicians and elderly patients can affect care. In a new study, she and her colleagues watched hundreds of hours of videotapes of doctors interacting with patients and found that eye contact, especially when it’s matched with meaningful verbal communication, does indeed help patients understand what the doctor is telling them and helps them stick to their treatment plans.
Gorawara-Bhat said that nonverbal communication, such as eye contact and touch, is especially important  when treating elderly patients.
Rita Gorawara-Bhat, PhD
Rita Gorawara-Bhat, PhD
“There are many difficulties that physicians have in communicating with older patients because of their frailty, hearing and vision difficulties, alongside all the comorbidities that an older patient may come along with at that age,” she said.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

New Mexico Camp Offers Getaway for Cancer-Stricken Children

My opinion:  Every time I hear about something like this, I'm so amazed and glad!  There are so many creative therapies out there, and I'm excited to see what's to come!  Given that the camp has been doing this for 27 years, I think they could be used as an example to create/improve similar camps.  I believe the duration of the camp is just right - one week gives the kids a fair amount of time to relate to each other, but I think any longer than that and it would be easy for them to see all peers as cancer-stricken.  But I also like how the camp's main focus is not on cancer - it offers a getaway experience for the children where, for a while, they can push aside the painful disease.  But since this is just for youngsters, are there retreats for adult cancer survivors, and even for other diseases?  I know cancer is a major issue everywhere, but clearly it's not the only disease on the planet.  Also, I wonder if some of the kids get financial aid to attend Camp Enchantment - I imagine some might not be able to afford it.  Any other tips?  Feel free to comment.

Camp provides peer support

By on Tue, May 28, 2013
It’s a shot of the new infused with a dose of the familiar at Camp Enchantment, New Mexico’s weeklong sleepaway camp for children who have battled cancer.
What’s new at the camp, which opened Sunday for its 27th session that lasts until Saturday: a peak number of participants – 84 – and a system to track the medical needs of all the campers, about half of whom take daily medications.
And what’s familiar at the camp, held at Manzano Mountain Retreat, an hour southeast of Albuquerque: arts and crafts, games, and all the other kids’ staples.
“Last night we got to sign up for all these activities!” said first-time camper Serenity Gatlin, 8, from Albuquerque, who’ll enter fourth-grade at Sandia Base Elementary. On her sign-up form, she’d written archery, sports and “Cake Boss,” held Monday afternoon.
Modeled after a TLC show of the same name, campers decorated unfrosted cakes. When asked where his cake was, Alec Lopez, an 11-year-old from Santa Fe who’d decorated his to resemble Cookie Monster, couldn’t produce it. “I shoved my face in it first,” he said.
Like Serenity and Alec, many of the kids whose parents dropped them off over the weekend don’t look different from other children, as they hugged their friends from last year and made shrinky-dinks and wove potholders.
Others, playing games in the gym and lunching on pizza and homemade peanut butter cookies, have scars from tumor surgeries or missing hair. Some campers receive chemotherapy orally at the Med Shed near the cafeteria, while others are in remission.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Possible Animal Cruelty at WUSTL Medical Lab - Real or Exaggerated?

My thoughts on this newsflash:  I hate to say this, but I'm not sure how true this is.  Today, guidelines dictate that all laboratory animals are to be treated with respect, even if they are killed - this seems to be the foundation of practicing science ethically.  A friend of mine working as an assistant in a lab told me that no one is allowed to make the mice anxious at any time, whether in or out of an experiment.  Some of the students' methods may be unethical, for example, putting individual ones through 15 intubations at a time.  Perhaps this issue should be investigated further, though - I feel like the article employs harsh and critical language to exaggerate the situation, when in fact there may be only a few problems at hand.  PETA is probably against animal use in any respect, which would explain the article's nasty tone.  Now, for questions - could these issues be prevalent at other schools?  Since there may be a limited number of ethical problems, can schools easily hide them under the carpet?  Feel free to comment.


Cat Cruelty Exposed At Washington University

(ANIMAL WELFARE) Recent undercover footage from animal rights group PETA has revealed a troubling practice at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL). During a medical training exercise called Pediatric Advanced Life Support, students were asked to intubate cats. Most medical facilities use lifelike simulators for this practice but in WUSTL the cats are put through up to 15 gruelling intubations per session. Some cats even began to wake up during the procedure. PETA writes, “Of the more than 1,000 PALS training facilities, WUSTL appears to be the last facility in the country that is still abusing cats in the course, in defiance of modern science and ethics.” Read on to learn why this practice is barbaric and unnecessary and find out what you can do to help. — Global Animal
Photo Credit:


Sunday, May 26, 2013

Medical Records May Disappear at Closing Hospitals

My thoughts on the story below:  Closing a hospital is a very serious matter, so serious that I think those involved in the medical industry need to more carefully consider its consequences, including myself.  Frankly, I don't think there should be a fee for obtaining records - the hospital closing is not the fault of the patient.  Not to mention, it may deter some people from making the purchase.  These records could provide life-saving information to doctors in future medical circumstances, and without them, it would be much more difficult to make correct decisions.  Even when hospitals don't close, I was recently told that many do not communicate records with each other.  Perhaps the hospital bureaucracy should be overhauled and all the records should be entered into a single system that would remain in the event of hospital closures.  The issue with this, however, is that it might be easier to steal patient information.  Would it be worth giving this method a try, or is it too difficult to implement?  Feel free to comment.

What happens to your medical records when a hospital shuts down?

 What happens to your medical records when a hospital shuts down?
They could be lost forever, unless you’re willing to pay for them.
We wanted to know just how important the records really are.
The question came up this week after former Hawaii Medical Center patients started receiving these letters in the mail.
Basically, anyone who’s ever been treated at HMC east or west has until September to decide if they want to pay to get a copy of their medical records, and doctors say it’s well worth it.
When Hawaii Medical Centers in Liliha and Ewa closed more than a year ago, that left the hospitals with tens of thousands of patients’ medical records.
HMC has sent out notices saying those records will be destroyed by September 24th, or former patients can order a copy for about $40.00.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Religious Parents Forgo Treatment, Allow Baby to Die

My opinion on the article:  In many medical situations, the choice of treatment is left up to the patient.  Doctors will grant a patient death if he or she is suffering and does not feel comfortable with further treatment.  Also, if an individual feels that a certain treatment is against his or her religious beliefs, then that person may opt out of it.  In this case, though, the parents are choosing for the child.  This is problematic as the baby cannot make his own decision - perhaps he would rather live than die.  Hence, some would equate this with murder.  I know that while many people are very religious, most spiritual leaders seem to acknowledge that prayer isn't everything.  It is fine to pray for one's health, but one must take the necessary steps and actually try to regain health once the praying is over.  And even if it is usually against one's religion, some medical procedures may be allowed in the event of a life threatening emergency.  It would be interesting to see what constitutes the parents' religious beliefs - is there really a strong enough basis to support their lack of actions?  Feel free to comment.


Pa. Dad charged after baby's faith-healing death says medicine 'against our religious beliefs'

PHILADELPHIA — After their 2-year-old son died of untreated pneumonia in 2009, faith-healing advocates Herbert and Catherine Schaible promised a judge they would not let another sick child go without medical care.
But now they’ve lost an 8-month-old to what a prosecutor called “eerily similar” circumstances. And instead of another involuntary manslaughter charge, they’re now charged with third-degree murder.
“We believe in divine healing, that Jesus shed blood for our healing and that he died on the cross to break the devil’s power,” Herbert Schaible, 44, told Philadelphia homicide detectives after their ninth child, Brandon, died in April. Medicine, he said, “is against our religious beliefs.”
The Schaibles were ordered held without bail Friday, two days after their arrest, although defense lawyers argued that they are neither a flight risk nor a danger to the community.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Cell Phones May Diagnose Illnesses

 My opinion on the article:  I'm so glad that they are developing this so early.  In the book Physics of the Future, by Michio Kaku, there is a story about a person in the year 2100.  At one point in the story, the man is diagnosed with cancer, but he does not even know what cancer is.  This is because doctors invented small, robotic sensors that roam throughout the body.  These sensors track cancer in its early stages and immediately destroy it.  I think that these smartphone apps may be the beginning of this kind of technology.  Since so many people own smartphones, it makes healthcare more accessible for the masses.  Instead of going to see a doctor, the smartphone could make a quick and easy diagnosis.  This may also be done more frequently, although I don't think the machine should replace doctors.  Doctors should still conduct checkups to make sure that the individual's vital signs are normal, as the machine cannot necessarily check for every health related issue.  Should researchers invest more money into making cancer detectors, and leave other sensors for later?  Or should they investigate how the machine can treat illnesses?  Feel free to comment.

Smartphones Become Handheld Biosensors
Fri, 2013-05-24 09:43

University of Illinois researchers developed a cradle and app for the iPhone to make a handheld biosensor that uses the phone’s own camera and processing power to detect any kind of biological molecules or cells. (Source: University of Illinois/Brian T. Cunningham)University of Illinois researchers developed a cradle and app for the iPhone to make a handheld biosensor that uses the phone’s own camera and processing power to detect any kind of biological molecules or cells. (Source: University of Illinois/Brian T. Cunningham) From: Researchers and physicians in the field could soon run on-the-spot tests for environmental toxins, medical diagnostics, food safety and more with their smartphones.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed a cradle and app for the iPhone that uses the phone’s built-in camera and processing power as a biosensor to detect toxins, proteins, bacteria, viruses and other molecules.
Having such sensitive biosensing capabilities in the field could enable on-the-spot tracking of groundwater contamination, combine the phone’s GPS data with biosensing data to map the spread of pathogens, or provide immediate and inexpensive medical diagnostic tests in field clinics or contaminant checks in the food processing and distribution chain.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Prisons Cut Back on Healthcare

My ideas on the below article:  I know that many, many people would support these cuts in healthcare for prison workers.  Whenever I read comments regarding convicted criminals, the majority seem to call for the death penalty, so we won't have to spend our precious tax dollars on inmates.  I had an interesting experience this year in which a social worker from a women's prison visited my sociology class.  She said she knew of one prisoner who had to have treatment on her eyes.  Unfortunately, it took so long to process the request that she did not receive treatment until much later.  Even worse, her doctors told her that if she had come earlier, they would have been able to completely fix the problem, but now she will probably go blind due to the degenerative nature of her condition.  The social worker said she was split two ways - she would like to see more reasonable healthcare in our prisons, but at the same time, she understands if prisoners have less access to healthcare than others.  Since the U.S. imprisons many a larger proportion of natives than do other countries, perhaps not everyone in prison is as bad as we think.  Would it be better if prisoners who committed less serious crimes got treatment first?  This way, maybe the system better serves those who were involved in less wrongdoing.  Or should healthcare be very minimal for all prisoners?  Feel free to comment.

Ohio prisons cutting medical costs
prison bars generic_20100725174111_JPG
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio prisons cut more than $26 million from inmate medical expenses last year, a state prisons inspection committee reports.
The Correctional Institution Inspection Committee report shows a 15.2 percent reduction in prison medical expenses in 2012, The Columbus Dispatch ( reported. The state paid $188.3 million in 2012 for medical services compared with $211.5 million in 2011 and $222.8 million for medical services in 2010.
The report by the legislative agency that monitors Ohio prisons also said the number of inmate patient visits to nurses and doctors dropped by 25 percent last year from 2009 and the number of inmates seen per health care worker dropped to 48 in 2012 from a high of 65 in 2006.
The savings resulted from a long process of "looking at every aspect of our health care system," according to Stuart Hudson, chief of medical services for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

3-D Printer Used to Save Child

My commentary:  As I mentioned in an earlier article, many cures to our health problems may be right under our very noses.  In this case, a 3-D printer was used to save a life.  Though 3-D printers are new and relatively unknown, they don't seem to be used for health purposes.  Perhaps biomedical engineers should utilize the power of these printers in order to make better products.  Similarly, electrical and mechanical engineers may have made a variety of inventions that could potentially support the medical industry.  But what could these inventions be?  I think that, at times, biomedical engineers need to team up with other types of engineers to create the best products.  Maybe an even better 3-D printer could be made to produce entire body parts?  And how close should the relationship between these engineers be?  Feel free to comment.


US doctors save boy by 3-D printing splint

Kaiba Gionfriddo with family dog Bandit
Kaiba Gionfriddo plays with family dog Bandit outside his Youngstown, Ohio, home this week. Picture: AP Source: AP

It's the latest advance in the booming field of regenerative medicine - making body parts in the lab.
In the case of Kaiba Gionfriddo, doctors didn't have a moment to spare.
Because of a birth defect, the little Ohio boy's airway kept collapsing, causing his breathing to stop and often his heart, too.
Michigan doctors used computer-guided lasers to "print out" 100 tiny plastic tubes of various shapes and sizes.
They implanted one of these tubes in Kaiba, the first time this has been done.
Suddenly a baby, who doctors thought would probably not survive, could breathe normally.
He was three months old when the operation was done last year and is nearly 19 months old now.
Kaiba is about to have his tracheotomy tube removed; it was placed when he was a couple months old and needed a breathing machine.
He has had not had a single breathing crisis since going home a year ago.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Penn Medicine Discovers that Hospitals may Raise Costs with Unnecessary Staff

My commentary on the article: I'm very glad that this study was done, because it reveals some of the factors that may potentially drive up medical costs.  This may not just be limited to hospital staff, but also for treatment.  I was just reading that many senior citizens are on more medications than are necessary, and unfortunately, it is very difficult to tell which ones should be eliminated.  Once, I even heard a story that a doctor prescribed an elderly man some medication after a he complained his memory was going.  However, as it turns out, the guy barely had any memory issues at all.  Perhaps by taking a closer look at the patient's medical history, this can be avoided.  As for the staff, it would be interesting to see research done on the hospital administration (though I admit this is not a medical study).  I know that in colleges, the administration is probably the major factor that drives up the price.  Could this be the same in healthcare?  And how will hospitals respond to this information?  Feel free to comment.


Penn Medicine Study Raises Questions About Added Costs and Physician Resources

Media Contact:Steve Graff | | 215-349-5653May 20, 2013
With little evidence to guide them, many hospital intensive care units (ICUs) have been employing critical care physicians at night with the notion it would improve patients’ outcomes. However, new results from a one-year randomized trial from researchers at Penn Medicine involving nearly 1,600 patients admitted to the Hospital of the University Pennsylvania (HUP) Medical ICU suggest otherwise: Having a nighttime intensivist had no clear benefit on length of stay or mortality for these patients, not even patients admitted at night or those with the most critical illnesses at the time of admission.
The research was presented at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in Philadelphia May 20 by senior study author Scott D. Halpern, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine, Epidemiology, and Medical Ethics and Health Policy, and published online the same day in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The findings raise a pertinent question in today's financially-conscious healthcare setting: Why invest financial resources to staff a nighttime intensivist if it’s not improving patient outcomes?
“This is an important finding that affects a lot of stakeholders,” said first author Meeta Prasad Kerlin, MD, MSCE, an assistant professor of Medicine in the division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “Staffing an intensivist at night is probably quite costly, because the total billing will likely be at a higher rate, which could trickle down to the insurance provider or patient.  There’s also the operating cost associated with staffing that impacts hospitals.”


Monday, May 20, 2013

Phone App Helps Boost Mood

My opinion:  While I believe this invention may provide some emotional support for patients, I do not think it is effective at solving major chemical imbalances.  Frankly, I'm not sure if this app should even be called a "placebo effect."  In general, patients may view the placebo effect negatively and not take the activity very seriously, rendering it useless.  However, perhaps it can leave the pill in, as many interpret the pill to have healing powers, even though it isn't real.  I think this program is more like a social therapy - it basically encourages the user to look at his or her life in a more positive manner.  Again, though this may work for the occasional blues, this can't fix clinical depression, and I hope its users don't believe that it will.  Should there be some kind of disclaimer at the beginning to prevent this?  Anything else that would improve the app?  Feel free to comment.


This App Will Make You Feel Better, Using No Medicine At All

Instead, it uses the power of your own positive thinking to create a placebo effect--which works even if you know it’s happening.
Traditionally, researchers have thought of "placebo effects" as something phony. Placebos are drug study controls, not the real treatment. And, the idea of sugar pills as effective medicine was almost an affront to science.
Recently, though, attitudes have changed. Amid evidence that placebo effects are strengthening, researchers have started looking at the phenomenon as something more positive. They’ve shown the experience can produce physiological effects, and can even be beneficial when patients know what’s going on.

Daniel Jacobs also wants to use placebos for good. His new app, which he’s crowd-funding on Indiegogo, is an attempt to take the placebo out of the doctor’s office and into your home. He hopes it will make people feel better, and contribute further to placebo research.
You start by setting a goal: say, more joy or love in your life. Then, you choose someone to give you the placebo (maybe a friend or family member), what you want it to be (a pill, say), and where you want to take it (maybe a forest where you go running with a friend). You then "take" the placebo whenever you want to, following a pre-set ritual built into the app.
The point is to replicate what’s important about the placebo effect, which isn’t the pill itself, but the experience.


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Insurance Company Provides for Preventative Medicine: Could this Benefit or Harm Patients?

My opinion:  While I think that preventative medicine is always a great direction to go in, I'm not so sure what this means for patients if insurance companies are involved.  As many probably know, Angelina Jolie recently had her breasts removed to avoid breast cancer.  While she may have been able to afford the treatment, other people may not, even with insurance.  Thus, a question that must be asked is: what and how much may these insurance policies cover?  I also wonder that, if a person does not get procedure to prevent an illness, and this person later develops it, will insurance companies penalize him or her?  Is it possible to make the illness like a pre-existing condition?  Ultimately, I believe that early examinations and treatments crucial, but I don't know if the insurance companies are manipulating the situation.  Feel free to comment.


Arkansas Mutual Insurance Company Announces Formation of Risk Management Department

Tue, 14 May 2013, 16:22:57 EDT
Edited by Christopher L Simmons LITTLE ROCK, Ark., May 14, 2013 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) -- Arkansas Mutual Insurance Company (AMIC), the state's fastest growing medical liability insurance company, announced that they are adding a Risk Management Department to support and develop preventative medical practices for their policyholder/owners that will result in effectively minimizing adverse events, reduction in claims and improvement in patient healthcare. With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, bringing professional resources to help physicians and groups navigate the new landscape is extremely important.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

What Will Autopsy of Boston Bombing Suspect Reveal?

My opinion: To clearly describe chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which the article did not, it basically eats away at the brain.  Perhaps the bombing suspect was affected by this if it ate away certain parts of his brain, like the amygdala, which controls emotions like fear.  In one case many yeas ago, Charles Whitman went on a shooting spree and killed many people on a college campus.  Doctors later discovered that a tumor was pressing against his amygdala. 


Even if Tsarnaev did not have CTE, researchers should still keep his brain to look for anything else unusual.  Often, terrorists or people with antisocial personality disorder may have similar personalities to many other people who would never commit such crimes.  By extensively researching the brain, perhaps we will discover just what makes these individuals act the way they do, leading to potential diagnostic measures in the future.  Although I do think that the background of each person should be taken into account before determining if he or she is a threat.  Feel free to comment.

Researchers urge brain autopsy of bombing suspect

Scientists wonder if Boston Marathon bombing Suspect No. 1,  Tamerlan Tsarnaev, left, seen boxing in the 2009 Golden Gloves National Boxing Tournament, had any brain damage from his time in the ring. (AP)
 Two pioneering researchers of brain disease among athletes in violent sports recommended Saturday that investigators conduct special autopsy tests on amateur boxer Tamerlan Tsarnaev to determine whether the Boston Marathon bombing suspect could have been affected by boxing-related brain damage.
 The researchers expressed serious doubt the disease — chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE — could have factored in the wave of violence that led to Tsarnaev’s death early Friday in a firefight with police.
 But they suggested investigators would be remiss if they did not autopsy Tsarnaev’s brain for signs of CTE. The disease can only be diagnosed through post-mortem forensic tests of the brain.
“I hope to God they do the special testing,’’ said Dr. Robert Cantu, a clinical professor of neurosurgery at Boston University School of Medicine.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Pharma Tracks Pills to Advertise Drugs to Doctors

My opinion:  While I do agree that there are some benefits that arise from pill tracking, I can't help but feel that the drug companies are using a lot of aggressive tactics to reach out to doctors.  First of all, if might be considered unethical to release information regarding the patients' ethnicities and income levels.  However, the bigger issue here is about the money.  I'm not exactly sure how drug companies extend their reach beyond the databases, but perhaps they try to visit doctors who aren't selling their drugs, and doctors whose patients aren't refilling their drugs.  This allows them to basically map out their region of control across the entire country.  Do companies in other industries have the same opportunities?  Also, are there review board that check upon a doctor's record to see if his or her patients are taking their medication?  If an inside source does this, then the databases may still come to good use while preventing the pharmaceutical industry from advertising to doctors.  Feel free to comment.

 Pills Tracked From Doctor to Patient to Aid Drug Marketing

In the old days, sales representatives from drug companies would chat up local pharmacists to learn what drugs doctors were prescribing. Now such shoulder-rubbing is becoming a quaint memory — thanks to vast databases of patient and doctor information being used by pharmaceutical companies to market drugs.
The information allows drug makers to know which drugs a doctor is prescribing and how that compares to a colleague across town. They know whether patients are filling their prescriptions — and refilling them on time. They know details of patients’ medical conditions and lab tests, and sometimes even their age, income and ethnic backgrounds.
The result, said one marketing consultant, is what would happen if Arthur Miller’s Willy Loman met up with the data whizzes of Michael Lewis’s “Moneyball.” “There’s a group of geeks, if you will, who are running the numbers and helping the sales guys be much more efficient,” said Chris Wright, managing director of ZS Associates, which conducts such analyses for pharmaceutical companies.
Drug makers say they are putting the information to good use, by helping a doctor improve the chances that their patients take their medications as prescribed, or making sure they are prescribing the right drug to the right patients.
Some doctors, however, expressed discomfort with the idea of sensitive data being used to sell drugs, even though federal law requires that any personally identifiable information be removed. “I think the doctors tend not to be aware of the depths to which they are being analyzed and studied by people trying to sell them drugs and other medical products,” said Dr. Jerry Avorn, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a pioneer of programs for doctors aimed at counteracting the marketing efforts of drug makers. “Almost by definition, a lot of this stuff happens under the radar — there may be a sales pitch, but the doctor may not know that sales pitch is being informed by their own prescribing patterns.” 


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Utah Medical Residence Practice Communication with Patients by Using Actors

My opinion: I think that this is an incredible idea, and would certainly be of great help to me if I was a medical resident.  All too often, doctors lack the communication skills they need and fail to reach out to patients.  This could make the patients uncomfortable and unwilling to reveal their medical history and substance abuse problems, among others.  Because of this, doctors are left unable to accurately diagnose their patients and cannot map out an effective treatment plan.
I like that the actors are trying to take on a variety of personalities to account for multiple scenarios.  This might prevent doctors from stereotypically interpreting the actions of  their actual patients in the future.  However, I worry that the actors are not realistic enough.  They should study the behaviors of teens carefully before portraying them, so doctors are better prepared for more realistic scenarios.  Finally, since this is the pediatric department, perhaps the residents could train with slightly younger actors, as well.  Perhaps this is not as crucial (children don't seem to suffer from substance abuse as much), but it might also be more difficult to relate to someone who is even farther apart in age.  Should other specialties, like geriatrics, practice communication with actors of different ages and ethnicities?  Feel free to comment.

Medical students improve teen interviewing skills with help from young actors

SALT LAKE CITY — Communicating with teenagers can be a challenge for anyone. It can be especially difficult if the teenager is at a doctor's office and doesn't want to talk.
A new program at the University of Utah is teaching medical residents in pediatrics how to be better doctors by improving their interviewing skills with the help of teenage actors.
Dr. Joni Hemond, co-director of adolescent medicine rotation for residents at Primary Children's Medical Center, brought the idea to Utah after experiencing it firsthand at a conference in Boston.
"As a practicing physician for so many years, you do certain things that you don't realize that you're doing or ask questions in a certain way that maybe some teenagers are uncomfortable with," Hemond said. "I thought, 'If I can get this great feedback, wouldn't it be wonderful for the residents to go through the same thing?' "
In January, Hemond met with high school students from the Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts. She gave the actors backgrounds for patients to portray when interviewed by pediatricians. Some played teenagers with drug abuse issues, others were suicidal or depressed, and some were pregnant or had body issues.
Chamberlain Schultz, a junior at the school, played Amber Valentine, a student suffering from depression who is suicidal.
"(I put up) many, many walls because I was very despondent," Schultz said. "I hardly ever looked up, but I think that is to be expected."
She said she played the character as truthfully as possible so doctors can be better prepared to help individuals in those situations.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Poor Posture, Not Sitting May Cripple Our Bodies

My opinion:  While I do agree that posture is important, I also don't think that it is everything to our health.  Having a decent posture may prevent us from harming our bodies, but it probably cannot make them stronger.  Hence, it is exercise combined with posture that will lead to the best results.  

I also wonder if, as a society, we are sometimes overly concerned about posture.  I know that for me, it is often difficult to sit up straight, and I certainly could use some posture improvements.  However, I also wonder if it takes years to achieve the best possible posture, or if we can learn how to form an "ok" posture rather quickly that relieves most of the tension.  In other words, I think its fine to worry about this, but do some of us worry too much?

Finally, as a music student, I'm frequently told that my posture must be changed in order to effectively perform.  Can music professionals give sufficient posture advice for everyday living, or is Esther Gokhale a more knowledgeable resource?  Feel free to comment.


Now sit up and listen: why posture matters


Amy Schoenfeld

The back button ... Esther Gokhale, right, teaches techniques for maintaining better posture. The back button ... Esther Gokhale, right, teaches techniques for maintaining better posture. Photo: Jim Wilson
Matt Drudge recently noted an anniversary of his aggregator news site with a Twitter post: "18 years of DRUDGE REPORT in February! And STILL sitting ;)."
Drudge, 46, hasn't just been sitting for two decades. Like so many workers chained to their technology, he has been hunched over desktops, notebooks, smartphones and tablets, and it's all taken a toll on his body. He tries to limit the time he spends sitting to four or five hours a day, but sometimes he sits for up to 17 hours.
To ease his back, neck and shoulder pain, Drudge says, he has learnt how to adjust his posture. Whether he's typing in the car, from the wooden folding chair in his Miami home office or from a boardwalk bench at the beach on cloudy days, he makes sure to tilt the top of his pelvis forward, roll his shoulders back, elongate his spine and straighten his craned neck.
Sit up straight. Sit up straight.
Drudge is one of thousands of people who have trained with Esther Gokhale, a posture expert in Silicon Valley. She believes that people suffer from pain and dysfunction because they have forgotten how to use their bodies. It's not the act of sitting for long periods that causes us pain, she says, it's the way we position ourselves.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Pharmaceutical Companies Pay Doctors Millions to Promote Drugs

My opinion: I actually just wrote a research paper that somewhat relates to this topic.  Personally, I do think that doctors more strongly consider the drugs discussed at these conventions.  These speeches do not just influence who gets grant money, but they also deter patients from purchasing generic drugs, as less money is used to advertise the generics than the name brands.  Perhaps the doctor in this article believes that he remains objective, but is it possible to understand objectivity from one's own subjective viewpoint?  One survey indicates that 71% of doctors think that their peers would prescribe drugs advertised on TV.  Also, doctors who attend these medical conventions may favor the discussed drugs over others when writing scientific journal articles.  Hence, these speeches may reach doctors across the globeIs it time to raise ethical standards and eliminate this problem?  Can medical conventions be equally engaging while focusing on other topics?  Feel free to comment.

Drug companies' millions boost research while raising questions

May 13, 2013  
Research Coordinator Joyce Greenwood runs a blood test for a clinical study at Allergy Asthma Immunology of Rochester.

Research Coordinator Joyce Greenwood runs a blood test for a clinical study at Allergy Asthma Immunology of Rochester. / Jamie Germano/Staff Photographer
Dr. Khalid Hubeishy makes his living seeing patients, but last year the Perinton psychiatrist was also paid at least $20,000 from pharmaceutical companies for making speeches about their drugs.
Hubeishy says the speeches — written and paid for by pharmaceutical companies — are educational, delivered to medical professionals and don’t influence what he prescribes.
“I have to be objective because of my patients,” said Hubeishy, who gets $1,000 to $2,000 a speech.
But such pharmaceutical-sponsored talks continue to raise ethical questions, and Hubeishy is one of hundreds of Monroe County doctors and medical professionals accepting payments from drugmakers.
New data show that payments here totaled nearly $11 million since 2009, and as some institutions tighten rules on accepting such money, others are finding it increasingly important as grants and federal spending become more scarce.
“It puts at risk the trust of our patients that we are free actors — independent,” said Dr. James Scully, chief executive officer of the American Psychiatric Association, which no longer takes pharmaceutical funds for its educational programs.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Pediatricians Tend to Support Gun Control

My opinion: I know that gun control is a hotly debated issue in America, so I'm interested in knowing why pediatricians support it - the article didn't mention too much about thisRecently, there has been an outcry against children who use guns, as some have accidentally killed family members or peersSince pediatricians deal with children, perhaps they don't think that children are capable of handling guns.  Also, I'd like to know if there's a group of specialists that is against gun control.  If I had to guess, I'd say it's the geriatricians, as the elderly need to protect themselves as much as possible.  Or maybe doctors in general support gun control?  Perhaps they think bullets are extremely harmful to the body, more so than other people do.  Any other thoughts?  Feel free to comment.


Pediatricians take on gun lobby – carefully

To pediatricians, gun control is a public health issue, not a political one. But they're treading a fine line, and they know it.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has begun a renewed push to try to get Congress to pass gun control measures, sending more than 100 pediatricians to Capitol Hill earlier this month. But others who have taken on the issue over the past decade have a warning for them: they can run afoul of the National Rifle Association and other pro-gun groups that are quick to paint anyone who advocates for gun control as a political extremist.
What the doctors want is an assault weapon ban, mandatory background checks and waiting periods before all firearm purchases, a ban on high-capacity magazines, handgun regulations and requirements for safe firearm storage under federal law.
“I think we can be honest brokers,” says Dr. Lolita McDavid, medical director for child advocacy and protection at University Hospitals, part of Case Western Reserve University’s school of medicine in Cleveland.
Johnny Hanson / AP file
With a little help, a child shoots an Airsoft gun at a target during NRA Youth Day events at the National Rifle Association's 142 Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Houston on Sunday, May 5, 2013.
“We have to have a collectively louder voice,” Dr. Danielle Laraque, who chairs the pediatrics department at Maimonides Infants and Children’s Hospital in Brooklyn, told a meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Washington, D.C. earlier this month. “What we need is a call to action, to really look at how we can change public policy that is not often affected by data.”