Many individuals in the United States will receive a cancer diagnosis this year. Such a diagnosis is upsetting to those who receive it and overwhelming to those—relatives or friends—who love them. Cancer is rarely experienced in isolation.
The stroboscope is an ingenious device of rapidly flashing lights that allows engineers and scientists to freeze motion and capture brief slices of time. The resulting image is akin to examining a single frame of a motion picture that provides a sharp image, albeit one without context and with neither past nor future. This is now, sadly, an apt metaphor for contemporary clinical encounters.
It is commonly said that necessity is the mother of invention, and this was certainly the case at UCLA Medical Center in 2014 . Howard Broadman, then aged 64 and a retired judge from San Diego County, California, was concerned that his grandson, Quinn Gerlach, would be unable to secure a transplant kidney when he needed one. And so began the first “voucher system” for kidney procurement.
For millennia, medicine has been applied towards three main areas of the human condition: the mind, the body, and the spirit. Traditional Chinese medicine was similar to ancient Indian medicine in that it sought to create a holistic approach to treating illness, and recognised the contributions of psychological and social aspects in disease management.
As an academic researcher, my primary goal is to improve population health. I was trained in innovative study designs, rigorous analytic approaches, and taught that fidelity to the methods is of the utmost importance. However, it is just as important that patients actually use the programs that we design to improve their health. Unfortunately, the few health programs that actually make it into the community can take years—even decades—to get there.
The recent news that US retail giant CVS Health will purchase insurance giant Aetna, in part to gain millions of new customers for its prescription drug and primary care businesses, is another ominous sign for patients. Consolidation often limits competition, and when that happens in market-based systems the result, says good research, is often that the cost of health care goes up.
Following the publication of the Government consultation Modernising Medical Careers in 2003, UK postgraduate medical training for doctors has been extensively reformed. These reforms have resulted in a competence-based training system, centred on a structured syllabus that defines the knowledge, professional behaviours, core clinical procedures, and clinical performance required for training.
The War on Drugs got it wrong. When President Nixon launched the “War on Drugs” in 1971, he framed the way we would view drug epidemics moving forward: as a moral issue. The “war” cast people struggling with addiction as criminals and degenerates to be dealt with by the criminal justice system. But law enforcement solutions have failed to curb addiction, and have further contributed to harming communities already experiencing deep levels of trauma, particularly communities of color.
Pain medicine adherence, the extent to which patients follow a treatment plan for managing pain, has remained a challenge to doctors and patients alike for millennia. Risks abound, from not taking enough medication, to taking too much and/or becoming dependent on it, with the current opioid epidemic in the United States providing a clear example […]
The spectrum of fungal disease has evolved exponentially over the past four decades, and so has the emergence of fungal diseases as an increasingly important problem in global healthcare systems. If a medical mycologist who had retired in the 1970s returned to the discipline today, they would inevitably find it irrevocably changed—almost unrecognisable.
Medical science writing is important and writing in plain English (that being writing that conveys the right content, clearly, and concisely) is a skill honed by practice. Learning to express complex ideas succinctly is in no way a remedial skill. Rather, it can only be seen as a sign of mastery. This matters in the 21st century, as English is the global language of science.
Each successful beat of the heart is the result of a well-timed electrical orchestra, headed by a conductor tasked with tirelessly maintaining this life-sustaining rhythm. The conductor of this silent symphony is the heart’s natural pacemaker cells, which synchronize the muscular contractions necessary to pump blood throughout the body.
On 2 January 2018, National Public Radio’s Terry Gross interviewed British neuroscientist Joseph Jebelli, who discussed Alzheimer’s disease and how “much better treatment” for the disease is about ten years away. The improved treatment to which Dr. Jebelli was referring was pharmaceutical/biomedical treatment. Indeed, the vast majority of stories in the mass media about treatment for Alzheimer’s focuses on the long hoped for biomedical treatment, emerging from drug trials or genetic approaches or both, that can stop the progress of the disease or prevent its occurrence. There is, however, a vast difference between treating a disease and treating people diagnosed with the disease — and this difference is especially critical where people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and their families and friends are concerned.
Increasing population ageing means that deaths worldwide are expected to rise by 13 million to 70 million per year in the next 15 years. As a result, there is an urgent need to plan ahead to ensure we meet the growing end of life care needs of our population in the future. Understanding where people die, and how this could change in the future, is vital to ensuring that health services are equipped to support people’s needs and preferences at the end of life.
24 April marks the start of World Immunization Week – an annual campaign first launched in 2012. The week is one of 8 WHO international public health events, which include those targeting major infectious diseases – World AIDS day, World Tuberculosis (TB) day, World Malaria day, and World Hepatitis Day. These infections share a few features with each other which mean they all will continue to be global health threats.
Healthcare is expensive, and not just in high income countries. Those who are suffering or struck by illness in resource limited countries are often unable to afford services that can provide them the care they need. Inequitable access to health services continues to be among the greatest public health challenges of our time. Since becoming […]