Informed Consent on Paper, but Not in Reality

Over the long weekend I caught up on some reading. One article stands out. It’s on informed consent, and the stunning disconnect between physicians’ and patients’ understanding of a procedure’s value.

The study used survey methods to evaluate 153 cardiology patients’ understanding of the potential benefit of percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI, or angioplasty)…

Engage with Grace: Talking About the Hard Stuff

When I practiced oncology, I relished time talking with patients and their loved ones about tough decisions – when an indolent condition accelerated and it seemed time to bite the bullet and start treatment, or when a cancer stopped responding to treatment and it seemed right to shift gears and, perhaps, emphasize palliation instead of more chemo, and at every value-loaded decision checkpoint in between.

These conversations weren’t easy; speaking of levels of care, palliation and end-of-life wishes are discussions that many doctors, even oncologists, still avoid.

The Transportation Safety Authority Screens Travelers Inside and Out

I’ll be staying near my home in Manhattan this week. But if I did have plans to travel by airplane for the holiday, I think I’d be apprehensive about the new screening procedures implemented by the Transportation Safety Authority (TSA).

My concern is not so much with the scanners…Rather, I’m worried about screening errors – false positive and false negative results, and about harms – physical and/or emotional, that patients and people with disability may experience during the screening process.

Does Cathy Make the Right Cancer Treatment Decision in the Big C?

“I don’t want to get sicker trying to get better and then just end up dying anyway” – Cathy, the 42 year old protagonist, with advanced melanoma, on the Big C.

Spoiler alert: Don’t read this post if you don’t want to know what happens to Cathy in the Big C…After months of unusual and comfort zone-breaking behavior, Cathy

Lots of Excitement about Anacetrapib, a Cholesterol-Lowering Drug

I’m a bit puzzled by all the excitement about Merck’s new drug, Anacetrapib (MK-0859), that’s said to lower risk for cardiovascular disease by lowering bad cholesterol. Earlier this week at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, researchers presented promising findings on the drug, including results from the phase III DEFINE trial. The list of disclosures for that abstract is long and fairly shocking. On Wednesday, the results were published on-line in the NEJM.*

The new drug interests me, as an oncologist, because it’s an enzyme inhibitor …

First Season Ending of the Big C

Last night I stayed up late to see the season finale of the Big C. For the first time in watching this series about a 42 year old woman with advanced melanoma, in a near-final scene involving the protagonist Cathy’s teenage son, I cried.

The storyline is moving, finally, in a real and not necessarily happy direction.

Links Add Value to On-Line Reading and Medical Blog Content

This post is intended mainly for medical bloggers, but it has applications elsewhere. It’s about links and uniform resource locators (URLs), terms that I didn’t fully appreciate until the last year or so. That’s because like most of my colleagues and readers, I grew up reading printed books, newspapers and magazines. Now, perhaps as much as 90 percent of the non-fiction I read is on-line.

The Web has a lot of advantages for readers – you can see multimedia presentations, or double-click to enlarge a graph of interest. What I think is best, though, is the third

Hospital Fashion News from AARP and the Cleveland Clinic

The November AARP Bulletin highlights a promising development in hospital couture: trendsetter Diane von Furstenberg has designed new, unisex gowns ready for wearing in hospitals. The new gowns provide style and full coverage, with options for opening in front or back according to the bulletin. A trial is underway at the Cleveland Clinic.

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