A Painful and Protected Disease Kept Isolated From the Cure

Anytime there is a really sick child or adolescent, regardless of whether or not you are specialty trained in pediatrics, there is a visceral pain and wanting to immediately remedy the condition.  For many of those faced with such circumstances, there is rarely an opportunity to completely eradicate the underlying disease or offending circumstances.  We look to bring more eyes and minds together to stop the disease process, to reduce the suffering and to help the patient, their parents and caregivers. Often entire communities come together to raise support for a child or a family dealing with cancer.  Dozens or more people put their personal needs aside and focus intently on those of a family hoping to stop the cancer that is ravaging their child’s physicality, devouring their emotional existence and impacting their lives forever.   This occurs despite a complete lack of knowledge about the disease.

Where there's smoke...

Smoking is on the minds of our legislators. Both tobacco and marijuana have been the subjects of spirited discussion and hearings the past few weeks and NHMS has been present bringing the voice of science, reason, and our patients. In regards to tobacco, NHMS has prepared a policy analysis (see report) that looks at the impact of a tobacco tax increase, taking into consideration the following:

• Smoking costs an average of $2,784 in direct medical expenses per smoker per year;
• Tobacco price increases of 10% consistently yield a 4% decrease in adult smoking and a 7% decrease in youth smoking;
• People of low socio-economic status have much higher smoking rates and poorer health outcomes; and
• The smoking rate among Medicaid beneficiaries is 57% compared to the overall NH of 19%.

A New Term

This past weekend, the New Hampshire Medical Society voted in a new slate of officers, and I am honored to be approved as your 182nd president.  The Annual Scientific Conference, held at the Mountain View Grand Resort, was the largest attended conference ever, with great lectures, energy and camaraderie.  It even snowed!  This year I hope to continue the excellent work of Dr. Harker and the previous 180 presidents who have represented physicians in New Hampshire.  I plan to focus on disability issues (both physical and mental/emotional) as well as the numerous healthcare transformation topics that lay ahead.  This will be a year of challenge, but also opportunity, for medical leaders who answer the call.  I look forward to representing you and working with you.

A Dream Dies To Save a Life

On June 26, 2014, the National Basketball Association Draft will take place in Brooklyn, N.Y.  One of the top picks expected in the first round, Noah Vonleh, was a star player at New Hampton School (N.H.) from 2011 to 2013 and was my oldest son’s teammate before playing for the University of Indiana last year.

Who's Afraid of the Boogeyman?

Toothpaste grenades.  Bombs in iPads?  Exploding clothing!  How scared I am.  Not the typical Dr. Seuss rhyme we grew up reading.  U.S. officials announced on Tuesday, Sept. 23, that one of the reasons for the recent bombing on Islamic State (ISIS) and Khorasan Group member locations in Syria and Iraq was because of intelligence that indicated these groups had obtained materials for improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that could be concealed in handheld devices such as smart phones and tablets as well as clothing dipped in explosive material.  These could then be used in coordinated, multiple “lone wolf” attacks.  See the story on CNN.

50 Years Ago Today

“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in a speech to the Medical Committee for Human Rights, 1966

Fifty years ago today, nearly 250,000 people joined together in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, calling for human, civil and economic rights for African Americans.  This march has been heralded as one of the greatest political rallies in our nation’s history and is widely credited for helping pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (which has now recently come under attack).

Will Therapeutic Cannabis Be Part of Your Practice?

The New Hampshire House and Senate have crafted and passed a therapeutic cannabis bill that Gov. Maggie Hassan is poised to sign soon, and now we, the physicians of New Hampshire, must decide how to incorporate or not incorporate this into our practices.  New Hampshire's bill is unique, and, with input from NHMS, we helped make this the tightest therapeutic cannabis bill in the country by limiting its scope, eliminating the home-grow provision, establishing that there must be at least a three-month ongoing relationship with a physician or nurse practitioner and limiting patient possession to no more than 2 ounces.  

You Don't Have to Be a Player to Be a Coach - You Have to Be Present

The disenchanted practice of medicine is often found to encompass those who have been at it for many years.  Then there are the newbies, not yet out of medical school, encountering the dynamics of clinical rotations, but eyes and ears wide open to get a clearer understanding of how to select a residency training program to best suit their lifelong careers in medicine.  Now, more than ever, the voices of mentors and far less senior clinicians are having greater impact on the future career decisions of medical school grads and early retirement of others.  There is mounting intolerance to corporate directives, second to the short-sighted corporate decisions made on their behalf by administrators.  It is far more challenging and uncertain as to how to plan for the future.  One cannot just go with what one’s heart and inherent talents lead one to, but rather how to hopefully align with the future state of health care.  

18 Wheels Are Safer Than 4?

For physicians who see patients for commercial driver certifications, May 21, 2014, is going to be an important day for you.  Beginning that day, patients who need to have a commercial driver examination and license will need to be seen by a Certified Medical Examiner (CME) who is registered and certified through the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners.  See the FMCSA regulations.

"Physician, Heal Thyself"

On a cold and crisp December day, hundreds of friends, family and colleagues, myself included, crowded into the small church to pay their last respects to one of the great physicians of our generation.  As I waited in line, looking at the multitude of floral arrangements, awards, photos and letters from an outstanding medical career, I wondered how many doctors take care of their patients better than they take care of their own health.