Outbreaks and vaccinations

childhood vaccinationsThe canary in the coal mine

Late last week I read the troubling story about a recent polio outbreak in Syria. Although polio, thanks to the vaccine, has been almost eradicated in most parts of the world, it is still present in several middle eastern countries.

Because of political unrest and the huge numbers of refugees fleeing to Europe, world public health officials worry about more widespread outbreaks of this crippling, and deadly, disease.

Outbreaks of highly contagious, but preventable, diseases have become more common because of the anti-vaccination movement. And as these like-minded individuals tend to settle … Continue reading

“The House of God”

house of godThe classic black comedy of medical training

The emotional and physical traumas of interns are well documented (if hilariously exaggerated) in The House of God by Samuel Shem. The “best medical students” become “terns,” the lowest of the low in the hospital hierarchy, and yet are expected to save lives on a daily basis, usually with little sleep and little or no supervision.

Shem, the pen name of a Harvard-trained physician, published “The House of God” in 1978 to provoke the medical education establishment and speak out against “the brutality of medical training.”

 July 1, the hospital New Year

This … Continue reading

Seeking reliable health care information

verified health care informationSurfing for health care information on the internet

I read a great post on the health blog KevinMD last week that encouraged health care professionals to provide patients with tips on how to use the internet to find credible health care information.

I use the internet a lot, and I know there are hundreds of popular websites promoting health-related information. How do you know which sites contain reliable information, which sites just want to sell you something, and which sites might be complete quackery?

Tips for internet surfing

The author of the KevinMD post outlined three ways to evaluate a … Continue reading

Just the facts, ma’am

Being a responsible consumer

There is a growing trend in health care for patients – consumers – to take more control of their own health care.

This trend is not really new. Ever since drug companies have been allowed to advertise their products on TV (1997), they have urged consumers to “talk to your doctor about [whatever the latest and greatest drug is].” They have been able to continue this practice because the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) actually believes them when they say their only goal is to empower “consumers to interact with physicians more effectively.”

Of course the Food … Continue reading

Be prepared – Learn basic first aid

One of the advantages of being a nurse/mom is that I can tend to a wide variety of illnesses and injuries without seeking medical help. I have probably saved my family a lot of money over the years!

Anyone can learn the basics of providing first aid. I taught American Red Cross First Aid and CPR classes for years, and I highly recommend taking a class, whether you are a parent or not. Even kids as young as 13 or 14 can take the classes.

Spring is a good time to sign up for a class. Once schools are out … Continue reading