medical errors


This was the lead personal ad in the local free rag for seniors I picked up today. “Romantic, Successful Doctor Seeks nice lady anywhere.” My first question is if things are still like when I was in medical school.

Are men still pretending to be medical doctors when they try to pick up women? I certainly never saw doctors as a romantic ideal.  Have women been and are they still, telling their daughters to grow up and marry doctors? A higher percentage of doctors are women than ever before.  This would tell any sociologist what I already know — the social status of the profession is definitely on its way down. Read more on Get Ready For Sleep-Deprived Doctors…

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When I was a very junior neurosurgical resident in France, I always thanked my lucky stars I had not overused coffee.  Mme. M., who ran the cafe below my apartment throughout the first part of my studies, which were mostly classroom, had an Italian espresso machine and little demitasses (half-cups) of potent brew — so potent that I could not consume more than one in the morning.  Arabica, fragrant, and aromatic, it was a true joy.

After I moved closer to the hospital center, I heard for the first time the expression “pump yourself full of coffee.” (se pomper pleine de cafe)  It was foul tasting stuff, consumed in an infinity of Styrofoam cups, and strong — really strong.  There were rumors that it came from the same “common market supplier” as the wine, which was supposed to also be from a a mixture of common market (it had not yet become the European Union) countries.  All the food was free, as we were government employees.

Nobody ever figured out where the coffee had come from.

There was an open bar 24/7, about as well outfitted as Mme. M’s.  I was afraid to be in the same room with it.  I am delighted to report that I never saw anyone use it on an on-call night.

This is the place I could access a small bed — iron tubes for headboard and rails, mattress probably stiffened with starch.  The joke, which may well have been true, was that it was Napoleonic non-issue, meant for a barracks.

After the first night I lay upon it sleepless, answering a beeper that whenever it rang told me to call the operator and they would tell me who to call, my then-young back was killing me and I was fighting tears. Read more on Save Lives — Let Doctors Sleep!…

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I wrote not long ago about the problem with sleep-deprived doctors.  Now I feel I must tell you that the person you are relying upon to perform delicate surgery may be so depressed that he’s contemplating suicide.

Why surgeons?  I used to be one and maybe I can shed some light.

Of course you can’t prove causality. Maybe just the fact that a person is a surgeon doesn’t mean he is at risk.  The same statement about “we can’t tell if there is something causing this or if this is an epiphenomenon” can be a criticism of almost any study, the way those invited to critique this study have spoken.

There is a problem, and this only hints at it.

Read more on Why Are Surgeons Committing Suicide?…

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After all the tragic news the past year or two about celebrities who have died after using a combination of legal prescription drugs, it’s enough to make someone wonder how you can avoid becoming a victim, yourself.

drug interactionsToday — with the internet — it is relatively easy to find out which drugs can be dangerous if mixed.  And if you get your drugs from a pharmacist, you can accept the “counseling” offer and ask specifically about interactions.
I hate to say it, but asking your doctor may be a distant third place in finding out the right information.

I don’t claim to have invented the internet, and I doubt I could be considered a pioneer of the ‘net, but wherever I have traveled to help out clinics and institutions over the past ten years, I insisted that I needed internet access to practice medicine.  At the time, I only needed access to one site.  It was a database sponsored by a major drug company and it had drug-drug interactions. Now it charges a fee for access and the data isn’t as good. Read more on Take Steps To Avoid Drug Interactions…

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Solange MagnanoSomeone who “has it all;” a beauty queen from Argentina, seems to have died in an effort to improve her buttocks.  A life risked, and lost, for a “firmer behind.”

Our friends at Wikipedia (I never had a patient who went for one of these) call it a “Brazilian butt lift,” so I expect it is some kind of a South American “point of interest.”  The procedure, however, seems to have little to do with what happened to the ex-beauty queen.
Read more on A Tragic Loss: Beauty Queen’s Plastic Surgery Is Fatal…

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I wanted to re-post this message now that we are starting a new round of articles. The reason is probably obvious — it’s a very personal statement. But also, it was only posted for a few days before we took the blog down to refurbish it. I hope you enjoy this.


Brother Harry and Me

Brother Harry and Me

The opening sentence of Erich Segal’s novel Love Story asks the question, “What do you say about a girl who died?”

I think of that when I’m going to talk about Harry — my little brother.

Read more on Remembering Brother Harry — A Case of Asperger’s…

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