'Tis the Ides of March, and time for another Grand Rounds (Volume 7, No. 25), the weekly roundup of the best in medical and health blogging —
On this day in history, Julius Caesar was warned by soothsayers to "beware of the Ides of March". Apparently, he did not heed the warning strongly enough as he was stabbed by Marcus Brutus on the Ides of March in 44 BC.
We must begin with last week's betrayal by the forces of nature, as Dr. Paul Auerbach, of Stanford Emergency Medicine, voices our feelings at Heathline:
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in harm's way related to the earthquake and tsunami that just struck Japan, as they did for persons in New Zealand, Haiti, and every other country recently affected by a natural disaster."
He also offers useful tips on what to about health and medicine if you should find yourself caught in a natural (or manmade) disaster.
"Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once" - Julius Caesar
And onward to the day-to-day trials of health and medicine:
Whether you're a patient coping with a chronic illness, a physician who is overworked, or a family member watching from the sidelines, dealing with health issues can be very stressful. Will Meek, PhD, shares an overview on healthy coping strategies for stress.
In a bold post entitled "Beware That Which Masquerades As Science," Phillip Hickey states that "modern psychiatry is an enormous hoax which is draining dollars from genuinely needed services and undermining notions of self-help and personal responsibility that are keystones of a thriving society." (Ill thoughts!)
"The common curse of mankind — folly and ignorance" - Troilus and Cressida
Over at Mind the Gap blog, Steve Wilkins notes that despite 30 years of research demonstrating the benefits of physicians displaying empathy to patients, doctors still don't seem to be paying attention! Definitely foreboding, we'd say...
How many of your everyday choices are really your choices? Fisher Qua examines how many "options" in health and happiness are actually already predetermined options created to control what we choose.
"The miserable have no other medicine but only hope" - Measure for Measure
Louise of Colorado Health Insurance Insider is 100% sure that Mandatory Health Insurance Does Not Prevent Medical Bankruptcies. She cites a study showing that overall filings were up significantly in 2009 across the country (including in MA). Also foreboding...
"Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt" - Measure for Measure
Another of the government's brilliant ideas has gone south, as Dr. Pullen explains: eliminating OTC products from the Flexible Spending Account list of approved items now means doctors are using precious time to write prescriptions for and Tylenol and dandruff shampoo.
On the flip side, David Williams praises the elimination of OTC drugs from the FSA list. In fact, he wants FSA gone completely!
Meanwhile, can technology be the ticket to increasing doctors' time with patients by improving efficiency? Or should clinics simply hire more doctors? Read musings on this topic at the blog, Bedside Manner.
Henry Stern shares a new medical buzzword - the "medical URL" - where doctors use websites to help manage prescription refills and appointment making, rather than hiring expensive staff. Automating the process will hopefully drive down costs — what do you think?
"'Tis the stars — the stars above us, govern our conditions" - King Lear
Have you seen those new TV ads in favor of celebrating more birthdays? Indeed, ACP Internist's blog reports the happy news that the ranks of US cancer survivors have grown to nearly 12 million.
Elaine Schattner of Medical Lessons has some thoughts to share on "The Flip Side of Unrealistic Optimism for cancer patients, i.e. consider the alternative: undue pessimism. Darkness begone!
Did you know that this week is Brain Awareness Week? Walter Jessen and colleagues at Highlight Health will be running stories and posting videos on brain research all week.
"This above all: to thine own self be true" - Hamlet
This Thursday, St. Patrick's Day, also marks Match Day, a key part of the residency application process for all senior US medical students (and many international medical grads too). Read FutureDoc's coverage, Insider's Guide to the Biggest Week in Medical Education, to learn more!
Some good news is that many of these "newly minted clinical medicine students" are very happy to be doing what they're doing. Follow the adventures of ACP Hospitalist and his new student in the post, "Life at Grady."
How will these young doctors and their patients become motivated? Dr. Doug Perednia of Road to Hellth shares Part 1 of a two-part series exploring the science behind how we should be motivating both our physicians and their patients. Worth a read!
"'Tis better to bear the ills we have than fly to others that we know not of" - Unknown play
On the theme of insurance companies attempting to save Obamacare: DrRich of Covert Rationing Blog writes on how the American health insurance industry is "playing Brutus to the Republicans' Julius Caesar (i.e. a supposed ally stabs the R's when they least expect it, he says).
More changes are in development for Medicaid and health care reform, and David Harlow favors letting the states experiment independently to see what works best.
"Nothing will come of nothing" - King Lear
Both "auspicious" and "foreboding": Jacqueline of Laika's MedLibLog asks whether multi-author medical blogs are too watered down to offer anything of value? "Inconsistency can affect credibility," she writes, and "it is important that posts are not discordant or of bad quality."
Much gratitude to all who participated this week. We close with a quote from Julius Ceasar himself:
"There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures."
Do venture over to the Better Health website, where Dr. Val Jones will be hosting Grand Rounds next week.
Farewell for now, Friends...