Stripping the Clippings

I’ve been saving the following items for a time when I could blog on them…but just haven’t gotten ’round to it…so…a small blitz:

  • This article from the NYT about a group wanting to ban gifts from pharmaceutical representatives.  States that medical schools should be the first to do this and then other physicians should follow.  I happen to agree, but that’s certainly a tall order…judging from the academic medical centers I’ve been in.
  • An item on both Slashdot and Science Blog (see the blogroll for links) about the game "wheresgeorge.com" and using the movement of marked dollar bills to simulate the spread of epidemics.  Bon Jovi said "Love is a Social Disease" – turns out money can be thought of that way also…Colleagues of mine published a public health teaching case on a tuberculosis epidemic in homeless men in Syracuse, NY a few years ago.  One of the followup points in this case is that the epidemic could be traced across the New York State Thruway – even though it had been assumed that homeless men didn’t travel much.  Our interstate highways and public transporation systems are the conduits no only for humans, but the microbes and other organisms (e.g., dollar bills?) that exist in symbiotic and parasitic arrangements with us.
  • A post about "if you do everything right, why do you still get sick?".  I’ve written about the general misunderstanding of risk before (here and here), but I heard a talk by an orthopedic surgeon yesterday that casts another light on this issue.  Discussing tendinitis and strains, he says he tells patients "Life is a process, not an event," and bemoans the athletes (weekend or otherwise) who present to him wishing to be better immediately, and to not put the effort into their own rehab.  A few principles for everyone to remember:  1) Doctors do not understand everything about how disease starts, how the body deals with it, and how our treatments work.  2) Because of this lack of knowledge, we can only talk about risks and probabilities. 3) Therefore there is some chance that bad things will happen as well as a chance that good things will happen.  4) Good, cheap or fast: you can have two, but not all three…it’s true of medical care in some ways, but in lots of ways, you can’t have it fast, someone else controls the dollars, and "good" may not be "as good as it was."
  • A final post with the topic of misinterpretation of science and misapplication of critical appraisal, but with the excellent title: "The Air Remains Dirty…and So, Apparently, Does the Sex."  I cannot further improve on this.