Policy and Ethics

Last week, Hillary Clinton left a September 11 memorial service after she felt overheated and dehydrated. Her team later confirmed Clinton had come down with pneumonia the Friday before, but had not canceled any of her upcoming events; it was only after she slipped out of the ceremony early that the public was informed of her sickness. She's not the first nor the last public figure to keep working while sick. In fact, she's not the only human on the planet that keeps chugging along while feeling less than 100 percent. What is surprising though — and dare we say dumb — is that the idea of showing up to work at all costs is very much the American way. Don't believe us? We have a name for it: Presenteeism. The word is so uncommon, spell check even highlights it...

  Welcome to my first in a new series entitled:  The Shackling of the Physician.  It was that or “limitless inane continuous regulations and impositions imparted on the doctor against his/her will without his/her input that serve to embattle him/her and detract from patient care and personal well-being.”  The former seemed more effective with respect to search engine optimization, but the latter is what emanates from my soul.

  Since this topic, alone, is boundless in possibilities, I will focus the discussion today on absurd, oops, I mean illogical and impractical and often utterly hilarious and completely inefficient costly diagnostic coding measures - a sampling of which is at the end of this article.  Yes, it is intellectually edifying to know how many get struck by macaws...

There was much excitement on Twitter after it was announced that Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Jill Stein answered the questions posed by Science Debate 2016. (Gary Johnson has yet to respond.) But how seriously should we take their answers?

Perhaps more so than in any election in recent memory, the two mainstream candidates have shown a shocking willingness to abandon the truth at a moment's notice. Answers to simple questions change, sometimes in the matter of hours or even minutes, as if the candidates neither realized nor cared that video cameras and instant replay can expose their duplicitousness. The problem has become so acute that, in a...

Some quirk of human psychology compels us to categorize and rank things. Top Ten lists are always among the most popular features on a website, stimulating much discussion and controversy. In science, the overwhelming obsession to classify is what pushed Carl Linnaeus to become the father of modern taxonomy and prompted Dmitri Mendeleev to decipher the patterns that led to the current periodic table.

The scientific community carries on these legacies to this day, but not always in constructive ways. Perhaps the most problematic classification system is that of the impact factor, which attempts to rank the...

Follow the money

Glance through any sufficiently long comments section, and you will find that two things almost always happen: Somebody makes a reference to Hitler (Godwin's Law), and somebody accuses another of using a logical fallacy. The first is clearly ridiculous, but the second is troublesome because many popular writers also succumb to the same temptation.

As I wrote for RealClearScience, the problem with this approach is that not every disagreement is the result of a logical fallacy. Pretending otherwise leads to the socially subversive conclusion that, if only every person on Earth was completely logical, everybody would...

Setting the scene

In 1960 Clyde Shields, a mechanic at Boeing was told he had renal failure – a death sentence. But Dr. Belding Scribner started him on an experimental technique, dialysis, which extended Clyde’s life for another eleven years and made him patient zero in a revolution in health care.

By 1962, the first dialysis center had opened in Seattle and the care of patients with what we now call end-stage renal disease (ESRD) evolved. It was expensive, and so in 1972 the first legislative experiment with “socialized medicine” care provided care for all patients with ESRD through Medicare.

Today ...

1. In America, we have the luxury of plentiful, affordable energy and full bellies - and so we have groups who are raising a billion dollars a year criticizing modern science and technology. Most media outlets just play along but UPI recently took a critical look at one topic; the claims of health effects related to modern natural gas extraction.

It's a topic we've look at with interest, but there's just nothing there, as UPI notes. Read more in Studies blaming ailments on Pennsylvania fracking are flawed 

2. We covered a study co-authored by Dr....

While George Bernard Shaw is remembered as a prolific and influential playwright, the award-winning Irishman also knew a thing or two about the art of communication. After all, he wrote 60 plays, including Pygmalion, spending the better part of his 94 years trying to reach his audiences. 

So it's interesting (and a bit clever) for the authors of a study focusing on the effectiveness of current-day emailing to quote the 1925 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. He most likely could never had conceived of future creations like the smartphone or emoji, but he was quite aware of the difficulty humans had when it came to effectively making their points to one another. 

“The single biggest problem in communication," according to Shaw, "is the illusion that it has...

www.nature.com

Haiti did not have a single case of cholera until October 2010 -- 10 months after a devastating earthquake leveled the country on Jan. 12 of the same year, killing up to an estimated 300,000 people. 

The ensuing nightmare continued through the entire month of January, with aftershocks bringing more devastation as they rolled across the country. But, by the end of January, the horror was over, and multiple organizations were mobilized to help get the country get back on its feet - one of which was the United Nations. 

The UN has been a presence in Haiti since 2004 as MINUSTAH (Mission des Nations Unies pour la stabilisation en Haïti.) After the earthquake, the UN acted to increase their presence, and three separate waves of troops arrived in Haiti...

The American Academy of Pediatrics convened a committee to guide clinicians on “Countering Vaccine Hesitancy” among parents. This policy statement, published in the journal Pediatrics, rightly champions vaccination as "one of the greatest public health achievements of the last century."  In a calculated effort not to reduce the conversation to a pro- versus anti-vaccine one, the leading pediatric advocacy body correctly opted to emphasize “vaccine hesitant” as a more precise reflection of the spectrum of parental views toward immunization.  According to a survey they conducted, 75% of pediatricians reported encountering parents who refused vaccines in 2006 compared to 87...