How the Supreme Court Hijacked the Legislative Process on Gun Control

(Note: Although this is a medical blog, I feel this still deserves a place here, as gun violence is unquestionably a public health issue.)

Having slogged through a good number of posts on gun violence since the latest school shootings, I haven’t encountered a single novel argument for, or against, gun control. The arguments on either side remain conventional and threadbare. After the current round of shouting, expect more “crickets chirping,” right up until the next mass casualty. If there is an exceptionalism to Americans, it lies in our intransigence and inability to learn from others. While the rest of the first-world has universal healthcare, we bicker and leave multitudes to do without. Whereas the nations of Scandinavia work to narrow the inequality gap, we elect officials who strive to widen it further. Long after other nations have enacted legislation ultimately proven to have kept their children safe, we continue to cringe, blame, deflect, and debate to no effect. Nothing has been tried. Nothing has been done. Research on the matter was effectively banned by Congress in 1996. How did this happen?

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Influenza Update, 2018

When 10-year old Nico Mallozzi, a vibrant, popular, hockey-playing kid from New Canaan, Connecticut, died less than 72-hours after contracting flu last month, the story made the national news. And scared the crap out of parents all across the nation. The reason this particular boy’s death resonated so loudly was precisely because he was such a typical, normal, all-American kid—healthy in every way. Continue reading

I’m skeptical about … antidepressants (part 1).

When I started reading the medical literature on antidepressants, I couldn’t help but feel that I’d read it all before. Study after study showed that antidepressants worked to treat mild to moderate depression. It didn’t seem to matter what class of antidepressant was tested or even which agent. Not even the dose seemed to matter. In virtually every trial, 50 to 60% of the patients treated with antidepressants improved. Continue reading

Update on knee osteoarthritis.

Knee pain related to osteoarthritis (“wear-and-tear”) is extremely common, affecting roughly 30 million Americans. As opposed to the knee pain that nearly everybody experiences after a day strolling through the mall or gliding down the slopes, osteoarthritis is a chronic condition, defined as “pain in and around the knee on the majority of days for at least one month during the preceding year, accompanied by characteristic x-ray changes of degeneration.” Continue reading

Update on CPR

In my last post, I reviewed data documenting that bystander CPR and rapid defibrillation with an automated defibrillator improves both the return of circulation (i.e. blood pressure and pulse), and short-term survival in victims of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. But does 30-day survival predict long-term survival? Does bystander CPR and defibrillation prevent long-term brain damage and nursing home admission rates? Continue reading

I’m skeptical about … CPR.

In 1996, an article appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine noting the success of CPR after cardiac arrest as depicted on the TV shows “ER,” “Chicago Hope” and “Rescue 911” was 75%. Pretty impressive, especially when you consider that the actual survival rate of cardiac arrest in the mid-90s was on the order of 5%. Continue reading

I’m skeptical about … annual checkups.

The concept of the annual checkup, now referred to as a “periodic health assessment,” dates back to 1861. Although the tools, tests, and screenings available today are far more sophisticated than those available to the antebellum physician, the purpose of the assessment has changed little—to provide an overview of health and the opportunity to screen for acute and chronic disease. Continue reading