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Don’t Cry for Me, Doctor Tina?

usn_logoOkay, worst blog post title of the year. But just trying to grab your attention and point you towards a nice USA Today article on doctors and emotional intelligence.

“Tamir Mosharrafa, a plastic surgeon in Phoenix, recalls the 20-something woman who came in for liposuction. “Dani” was very lean and very pretty – and “absolutely not a candidate” for the procedure, Mosharrafa says. She’d come to his office with her mother, and Mosharrafa asked to speak to Dani alone. “I asked her, ‘Dani, what brought you here today – because it’s clearly not your physical appearance?’”

That question promoted Dani to open up about how she was chided as a middle-school student for being a little overweight. That trauma was still with her, and she cried revealing it to her doctor. “That’s where getting emotionally connected can make a difference,” Mosharrafa says.

He didn’t perform liposuction on Dani, instead referring her to someone who could discuss more at length the real source of her troubles.

Mosharrafa’s patients run the gamut of breast cancer patients who have undergone mastectomies to women who want bigger or smaller breasts. Behind all these patients are life stories and emotions that he has to learn as he learns about their bodies. “It’s impossible to operate on a perfect stranger,” he says. “In order to do it well – whether it’s making them more beautiful, or making them more whole – you really have to have an understanding of their fears and hopes.””…

(Continue reading here.)

Posted in Medical Decision Making

More Cause-and-Effect Hilarity

Recently I have posted several entertaining pictures revealing the dangers of assuming that correlation implies causation. A lot of these pictures are housed on this fascinating website. Meanwhile, here’s another one I had to pass along:

nicholas cage and drownings

This can’t be coincidence, right? With all the strange movie choices Nicholas Cage makes, I always knew he was up to something!

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Posted in Miscellaneous

Is the Nutritional Supplement Industry Feeding You Bull Balls for Breakfast?

bullballsMy patient had been feeling unusually irritable lately.  Nothing had changed in his home or work life to bring on such a shift in mood.  He wasn’t taking any medicines that could cause such symptoms either, being a strappingly healthy young guy.  A weightlifter in fact.  “Are you taking any kind of steroids?,” I asked him non-judgmentally.  I knew that such chemicals could affect mood.

“Nope.  Wouldn’t touch the stuff.  Just some nutritional supplements,” he told me.

I asked him to bring the supplements in at his next appointment.  When he did that, I discovered that one of the supplements listed “ground bull testes” as an ingredient.  My patient was unwittingly ingesting testosterone.  How much?  Impossible to know.  The label was as vague as middle school prose… (Read more and view comments at Forbes)


Posted in Health Policy | Tagged

The Power of Comparison

moon comparison 1In a wonderful article on deep cave exploration, Burkhard Bilger shows how powerful comparison can be in putting an unfamiliar topic into context. He is describing the arduous work involved in deep cave exploration. He is describing the risks of being far, far inside the cave when a heavy rain on the surface begins to flood the cave. There’s no quick way out, you see:

To climb straight back to the surface, without stopping to rig ropes and phone wire, would take them four days. It took three days to get back from the moon.

That last little detail, about coming back from the moon, is a beautiful piece of writing, and a wonderful way to remind people of how difficult it can sometimes be to travel in unexplored part of our own planet.

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Posted in Miscellaneous, Uncategorized | Tagged

How Bankers Use Other People’s Money

brandeisI came across an interesting quote in the New Yorker recently, reflecting on the US banking system. It reads:

The power and the growth of power of our financial oligarchs comes from wielding the savings and credit capital of others. The fetters which bind the people are forged from the people’s own gold.

Pretty timely thoughts, given what’s happened in the US recently, with a banking system that brought us to the edge of financial ruin, only to have us bail it out. But these words aren’t reflections on the modern American economy. They were penned by Louis Brandeis in 1914, in a book titled “Other People’s Money and How the Bankers Use It.”

History repeating itself?

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Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged

Provocative Words on Robots

Oscar WildeOscar Wilde is one of the most quotable people in history of the English language. He even had ideas about robots, many decades before people had any idea what robots could achieve. And in typical Wildean fashion, he provocatively tied it together with his attitudes on the advantages of slavery:

“Unless there are slaves to do the ugly, horrible, uninteresting work, culture and contemplation become almost impossible. Human slavery is wrong, insecure, and demoralizing. On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of the machine, the future of the world depends.”

Or as a Steely Dan might put it: we’d be fools not to have robots do our dirty work, oh yeah!

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Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged

A Cool View of Music

leibnizLeibniz once described music as an “occult exercise in mathematics performed by a mind unconscious of the fact that it is counting.”

As someone currently working through some late Beethoven piano masterpieces, this description makes a lot of sense to me. Now if I can only find enough practice time to make my performances more unconscious!

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Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged

Obamacare Hasn’t Scared Away Insurers

Interesting picture on the Vox website from Sarah Kliff, showing an increase in the number of health insurance companies planning to compete on the exchanges next year:

insurers on exchanges

So much for the rumors that Obamacare will quickly kill the health insurance industry.

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Posted in Health Policy, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

On Improving Communication

john durham peters

“The mistake is to think that communications will solve the problems of communication, that better wiring will eliminate the ghosts.”

—John Durham Peters

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Posted in Miscellaneous | Tagged

Insurance Woes

A great cartoon from the Kaiser Health News website that pithily captures the “wonders” of the American health insurance system.

insurance woes


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Posted in Health Policy | Tagged