So I started my surgery rotation, moved house on short notice, and then spent the weekend revelling in gastroenteritis. Needless to say, not a lot of creative (or any!) writing done in that time. However, my e-mail inbox has piled up with a lot of interesting medical links. Most of them are from my mom, who has more time to read the Globe and Mail than I do. I wonder if she should have access to post on this blog – it could be “Mama Otte’s Tuesday Bizarre Health Linkstravaganza.” No?
Well, Happy Mother’s Day!
Thanks to her (and a few other people who think of me) here are some weird and wonderful tidbits for your perusal:
I’ve just moved into a brand new apartment and there are certainly some odd smells and noises. I have the cheapest couch one can every buy and it has been with me for quite some time. I never thought of it as a potential hazard to my health, but the Victims of Toxic Chinese Sofas (who will receive a $30 million payout) are probably wishing they’d critiqued their furniture choice just a little bit more thoroughly. Kind of sad that the safety of a couch can’t be taken for granted. Neither can avoiding nearly eradicated diseases.
Recently, our ICU hosted a Diphtheria patient. Quite unusual, but fortunately not as many cases developed as did in the Measles Outbreak that was going on in Vancouver. That’ll make you think twice about not taking your children to have their basic vaccines! I’m just glad it wasn’t polio. It’s amazing how often the vaccination talk comes up at work. I was full-time in the Family Practice Clinic last month and had a few discussions with parents. Most were very open-minded and I could tell that they were carefully weighing their options, not jumping to any extreme position without a lot of though. Fortunately most of my patients are a pleasant sort, but that’s not always the case for doctors. Although I have been physically attacked by delirious patients on the ward and had male patients make inappropriate comments, fortunately I’ve never been the target of an intentionally malicious act. That’s why I was surprised to read that 75% of Family Doctors have experienced ‘major’ abuse by a patient.
There are all sorts of different types of conflict that GPs encounter and one that comes up often regards our internal angst over prescribing practices (and relationships in general with the Pharmaceutical industry). People have joked about adding statins- cholesterol lowering ‘miracle’ drugs – to the water supply; while that clearly isn’t going to happen, they are being unleashed full-bore in the US of A. We have to be very careful because broadening the use of statins is not without risk, and the benefit all depends on how you look at the numbers. We are pretty sure that you’d have to treat a lot of healthy people (~100-250) for a lot of years (5) before one of them gets a benefit. Even if you prevent a heart attack or stroke, the rates of mortality and ‘total serious adverse events’ don’t change. Does the benefit really outweigh the cost, hassle, and side effects of the pill? I’ll let my patients decide.
So, here’s to critical thinking – in my case, inherited from and engendered in me by my creatively mathematical mama (and my scientifically skeptic dad).