One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer

I heard an interesting report on the radio last week dealing with alcohol use in the baby boomer generation.  While underage drinking is often a focus of discussion for public health officials, law enforcement officials and healthcare providers, it appears that alcohol use in the middle age population is more common than previously believed.  See the New Hampshire Public Radio report here.

It Will Be a Lifesaver for Many

There have been convoluted discussions regarding the utility in providing educational awareness in how to reduce the risk in risky behavior. Needle exchange programs struggled to get off the ground for years.  Proponents supported disease prevention while increasing access to unused syringes without punitive legal ramifications.  Counterpoints have viewed such options as means to increase illicit substance abuse of those already exposed and to entice others in contemplation.  Data and the tincture of time have borne out the need for ongoing support with a multifaceted approach, incorporating strategies and stop gaps, not to derail well warranted public health initiatives.  “To effectively reduce the transmission of HIV and other blood-borne infections, programs must consider a comprehensive approach to working with IDUs. (IV Drug Users). Such an approach incorporates a range of pragmatic strategies that address both drug use and sexual risk behaviors.

It Is In Your Backyard

It was 2 a.m., 22 years ago, when I answered the phone.  My friend’s brother, barely audible, asked if I wanted to buy his parents’ silverware or maybe a saltwater fish tank setup.  He would be over in less than an hour, and we could settle on the price then.  Another close friend was distraught, having just been informed that her daughter, a freshman in college 3,000 miles away, had been found unresponsive on the floor and taken to the emergency department.

Interesting Times

May you live in interesting times …

My term as president of the New Hampshire Medical Society concludes at the end of this week, and the year has certainly been interesting.  While health care and the practice environment continue to change rapidly, the NHMS has been there at the table representing you, working to improve care and the public’s health without altering the sacred patient-physician relationship.  I feel incredibly privileged to have served you and the society.

Ice Ice Baby

Unless you have been living under a glacier recently, you likely have seen, read or heard about someone who has done the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  It was a simple request started in New England in July 2014 by Pete Frates, the former captain of the Boston College Eagles baseball team in 2007: dump some ice water on your head or donate $100 to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  Pete was diagnosed with ALS in 2012 at the young age of 27, and his “ice bucket challenge” to friends and family was a way to help increase awareness and advocacy.

I Just Want To Fly

Last week on a flight home to snowy New Hampshire, I was thinking about the 22nd Winter Olympic Games that had just started in Sochi, Russia.  As I flipped through a sports magazine, I was stunned by an advertisement that showed a picture of Josh Dueck, a T-11 complete paraplegic athlete, mid-air performing a sit-ski back flip.  While a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is even better.

Next month, the Winter Paralympic Games will begin in Sochi and include men’s and women’s events such as downhill skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, sled hockey and wheelchair curling.  See the schedule here.

Overdiagnosed? The wrong prescription?

I recently saw a patient who came to me looking for an antidepressant. She explained that she is under a great deal of stress at home and work. We talked about the impact of the stress on her ability to function, sleep and participate in enjoyable activities. I asked her about suicidal ideation and administered a standardized, evidence-based, depression screening tool, the PHQ-9 (Physician Health Questionnaire 9. (You can download it here)

Honored to be 181st President.

This past weekend the NHMS voted in new officers and I was honored to be elected as our 181st president.  Our Society is one of great tradition that values science, advocacy, individual health, public health, and the sacred doctor-patient relationship.  This year I hope to continue the important work of Dr. Cooper and the other 179 presidents who preceded me.  I plan to focus our efforts on: building a robust portfolio of health policy related activities, advocating to reinstate the tobacco tax to prevent youth and adult smoking, and addressing the state budget crisis so future state budgets better reflect New Hampshire and NHMS values. These are big and important initiatives and the NHMS is going to need your help.

 

Our Role in Price Transparency

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” Dalai Lama   Last week Time magazine dedicated it's entire feature to the high cost of medical care, the causes, and what can be done about it.  The journalist, Steve Brill, picked apart bills to better understand why health care costs so much.  It really is an interesting and thought provoking piece and I recommend it to you all.

Pink is the New Black

Mondays at work are usually never fun, especially when you find out that your close friend in her mid-40s has been diagnosed with Stage 2 invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast.  She had missed her regular mammogram last year.  It immediately took me back to July 2010, when my older sister, Ivy, passed away at the age of 53 after the recurrence of an aggressive breast tumor.  Two years prior, she had gone through chemotherapy, radiation treatments and a mastectomy with reconstruction and was doing well for approximately 12 months.  It made me wonder how medicine is faring in 2014 in the fight against breast cancer.

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