Friday, April 27, 2007

Top 5 Medical Movies

From St.Elsewhere to Grey's Anatomny, and all the o­nes in between (see: Chicago Hope, Strong Medicine, ER, etc, etc), television MDs have been all the rage for as long as we can remember. But how about their silver screen equivalent? While medical TV has been a staple o­n Primetime year after year, the Big Screen has been suspiciously devoid of doctoral cinema? There have been a few good o­nes over the years, and the staff at have combed through hundreds of movie titles to give you the best that Hollywood has to offer.

1. M*A*S*H (1970). No, not the TV show! Most people don't realize that this is o­ne of the few instances where a movie's small-screen spin-off overshadowed its hilarious, Oscar-nominated, big-screen original. Elliot Gould (Trapper), Donald Sutherland (Hawkeye) and Robert Duvall (Frank), play surgeons during the Korean War in an era where politically incorrect was correct, and doctors and nurses stilll "fraternized." Finally hear the words to the famous theme song, laugh continuously, and think of your own Methylene Blue prank.

2. AWAKENINGS (1990). Robert DeNiro plays a catatonic schizophrenic, and Robin Williams play his socially phobic psychiatrist in this emotional roller coaster of a movie. When Williams' character discovers a drug that brings his patients back to life, irony ensues, as DeNiro teaches the doctor about what living really means. Having been "awakened" for o­nly a few weeks, DeNiro swims in the Bronx waters, falls in love, and nearly starts a rebellion within the institution. The drug's effects are short-lasting, making for a Algernonian ending, but the lessons he teaches the psychiatrist are forever.

3. FLATLINERS (1990). What do you get when you cross Kiefer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon and Julia Roberts with Billy Baldwin? 3 future A-list celebs and 1 celebrity mole. See these actors before they were truly big-time in this thriller about medical students who are killing, and then reviving themselves, all in the name of research- and "thrillerology." Although, I didn't exhaust Medline, I'm pretty sure I never saw an abstract like that. I'll bet it would make for interesting conversation during your fellowship interview, though.

4. DEAD RINGERS (1988). As if o­ne Jeremy Irons character isn't weird enough, he plays TWO identical twin gynecologists in this bizarre, and highly-acclaimed film. This suspense/horror/fetish flick makes the list o­n its originality alone. And it's got nudity.

5. GROSS ANATOMY (1989). Not since Vision Quest, has Matt Modine inspired me so much. Although he's not wrestling "Shoot" for the state title and runnning in a shiny silver suit to make the weight, he's studying his way to his MD in this Saturday Afternoon Movie-type flick. A boy from the wrong side of the tracks rejects the ways of his stressed out, cut-throat colleagues, and shows them how it can be done without being such toolboxes. Some eerily accurate, and identifiable, pre-test stress is portrayed- but Modine's character represents the guy/girl that every college freshmen wants to be until they realize that, in med school, you need to be a tool box to get by.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Sky Mall "Medikal" Merchandise

On a recent plane trip home from Hot-lanta, where we endured 3 days of non-stop lecture about cardiac ultrasound, our brains were not up to discussing any politically incendiary health issues. However, we did get a good laugh from the ever-entertaining SkyMall catalogue. Please to enjoy...

1. Millenium Water Oxygenator - Wow. This one is a truly special medikle bargain. For just under $900 you can have all your water with extra oxygen. Because H2O needs more O? HealthyConnections, which asserts to bring you the very best in wellness is bringing you a lot of hot air with this item. I can just picture the somatizers of the world gathering together to praise the wonders of hyper-oxygenated water - and kabbalah. It's worse than those oxygen bars where people hook themselves up to a nasal cannula as if it's doing anything. Maybe our failing hospital systems should start offering cheap oxygen to these hipster doofuses that beleive it actually has an effect?

2. The Headache Glove - HealthyConnections has evidently been hitting the O2-water pretty hard. They also offer a bona fide headache cure based on "ancient Chinese acupressure techniques with modern technology." Intrigued? Don't be. It is a $100 inflatable glove with a pump attached that squeezes your hand when you have a headache. For $15, will call your friend to come over and kick you in the groin next time you have a headache. We promise similar effects.

3. Head Spa Massager - The catalogue's title for this item compels you to "enter a state of euphoria". Gadget Universe, clearly a dynamo of quality products, rubs our editors the wrong way with this helmet-esque device that promises to "relax and soothe your problems away." Let us just say that, medically, if you are buying a metallic Viking helmet that plugs into a wall to make your problems go away, you might have bigger issues, i.e. think about trying drugs. The blurb next to the item claims that it's like thousands of tiny fingers massaging your scalp at once. Ewwww.

Link to a YouTube video of a demonstration:

4. iCarta Stereo Dock - Talk about crappy music! This Charmin-holding iPod dock hails from the illustrious Sky Mall Collection and the description proclaims it the "King of All iPod Docking Stations". Firstly, we were not even aware there was a monarchy associated with iPod docks; if there were, what a sad world where the King has to also hold toilet paper. For $99.99, you can take your iPod to places where few have gone before - just make sure to disinfect it frequently.

5. Inversion Stretch Station - Found in the FootSmart department of the SkyMall is one of our favorite "medikel" items - which is our euphemism for anything that presents itself as a therapeutic device, has no proof of its benefit to humans, and probably does more harm than good. The Inversion Station is a first rate example of this. They boast that Hippocrates, himself, prescribed this noninvasive method of treating back pain. Wow, you mean an ancient physician from 400 BC said that hanging upside down on a metal triangle was good? He also held that all illness was from an imbalance of the four humors in the body - blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm. Nice.


Pop-up Hot Dog Cooker - Ok. It has nothing to do with medicine or health care but it's a classic. Hammacher Schlemmer cooks up this Sky Mall treatfor the tasty sum of $49.95. It's graced the pages almost as long as the Giant Crossword Puzzle and is about as useful. If you are someone who has trouble boiling water or using a standard toaster-oven than this is the device for you. It has two circular slots for hot dogs and two oblong slots for buns - be careful not to confuse them and cram the buns where the meat should go.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Surgeons Repair Croc-Severed Arm

That is a real 400 lb crocodile. And someone's real coarsely amputated arm. The crocodile is a resident of the Shoushan zoo, in the southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung, and the arm belongs to Chang Po-yu, the zoo's veterinarian.
The croc doc had not recognized that his patient was not completely anesthicized and when he tried to retreive a syringe from the reptile's hide - whammo. The vet was rushed to the OR table and his arm was clode behind, as shown in this fairly intense video.

After six hours of surgery, the skilled Taipei surgeons successfully reattached the Po-yu's arm. It is really cases like these that make you proud to be a physician. That doctors and emergency staff can work so efficiently and effectively togther as to reconnect a man's arm that was torn off by a friggin aligator (crocodile, whatever) - it is amazing!

Bacterial contamination of the arm has got to be a serious concern as it was recently sitting in the mouth of a huge-toothed beast that routinely eats raw flesh and wades around about 3 inches off the ground. Also, the life span of nervous and vascular tissue exposed to the air (and that mouth) cannot be very long.

That is not even taking into consideration the massive surgical cahones you have to have even to be able to re-anastamose shredded arteries and veins and muscle and bone and skin!! How great are those guys!

I think we should start efforting for an interview with these surgeons to ask them exactly how they performed this medical feat. We're on it. Does anyone know Taiwanese, though?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

StopPagingMe's Kick in the RSS

Bush: A Champion of Inhibiting Science

He did it before and he'll do it again. Ask out President for anything and he will say 'yes'. But ask him to allow federal spending on the hottest field in scientific research and he will dust that veto card off quicker than you can say 'Christian Right.'

For only the second time in his two terms, Dubya is poised to block a Senate-supported bill that would lighten up on embryonic stem cell research restrictions.

I am so curious to know whether this vendetta against embryonic stem cell research is Dubya's personal opinion or urging by his party? When the leaders of virtually every major scientific institution and academy, including the guy he picked to head the NIH, agree that more federal monies should be spent, how much guts (or stupidity) do you have to have to say 'Eh, what do they know.'

Imclone Gets Theirs

Imclone, a compnay that has based the majority of its eraning potential on one chemotherapeutic agent, Erbitux, presented disappointing study data with regard to treating metastatic and nonsurgical pancreatic CA.

The stock was down more than 7% on those results.

"We still consider pancreatic cancer to be of the utmost priority, and we intend to pursue additional evaluations with Erbitux including a pilot study of Erbitux and bevacizumab with or without gemcitabine, as well as our pipeline agents, to improve the outcome for patients with pancreatic cancer," stated Eric K. Rowinsky, chief medical officer and senior vice president at ImClone. always ragged on Imclone's prospects as a viable investment since Erbitux seemed to be their one and only earner - without any evidence of a viable pipeline. This might be the beginning of the end for the company that put Martha Stewart in the clink.

Add Chocolate to the List of Foods That Heal?

Every day there is a new story about some food that is either helpful or harmful. For some reason, the media selects these small and often clinically irrelevant studies because it relates to food. Today, the healing food du jour was cocoa. An article in the Archives of Internal Medicine reported that those patients who ate chocolate for at least 2 weeks experienced a drop in blood pressure that was significant compared with those who did not.

If this is what you need to go ahead and eat that KitKat, then justify away. But don't think that you are doing a good thing. For every millimeter of mercury that you drop in blood pressure you will have an equal rise in blood sugar, fat grams, and likelihood of developing Type 2 DM - not to mention waste size and fold number.

Smoking Out Dementia

So, if you trust the RSS feeds, chocolate is good for you in the middle of life when you're battling hypertension but how are you going to stave off the pill-rolling tremors, masked facies and dementia of Parkinson's Disease (PD)?

Easy - smoke up Johnny!

The big brains at Duke University studied relatives of Parkinson's patients and discovered that those who smoked regularly and drank coffee were less likely to develop PD then their squarer relations.

Coffee we are not really too concerned about, but giving positive reinforcement to smoking to avoid PD is like supporting guns to avoid stabbings. While not based on any scientific evidence one has to be curious whether long-term smokers who make it to a Parkinsonian age without developing other significant (smoking-related) diseases might be genetically superior in some fashion?

And Finally...

In case you missed it, Larry Birkhead is the dad. And was anyone else as disturbed as we were by that picture of him with his arms raised in a 'V' like Johnny Drama? What exactly did he win that he should be celebrating? 'See America? I am the father of a tragic, deceased, diet-pill-model's daughter. And I will spend the rest of my days chasing money in courts. I am the champion."?

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Enough is Enough: Cruise Goes from Bizarre to Retarded

What is going on in this world? It's not enough that Tom Cruise has more money than most small countries, but now Maverick is using it to exploit some scientology-based, bullshit treatment for 9/11 workers.

And no one is writing a thing.

The self-proclaimed president of the L. Ron Hubbard fan club (aka Hubheads) is on a fundraising mission as co-founder of the New York Rescue Workers Detoxifixation Project. Sounds legit, huh? They are advocating an untested, unreported, pseudo-medical, regimen created the by Hubbard, himself, who is about as qualified to treat toxic exposure patients as Snoop Dogg. Tickets for the April 19th gala, which will star Cruise, run as high as $100,000 for a table for eight.

And still, no one is saying a thing!

It would be one thing if Cruise preached this crap in Los Angeles where star status sometimes takes precedence over common sense and practical thinking. But he is spewing this garbage all over what I consider to be the greatest (and toughest) city in the world - a city that suffered a great tragedy but rebounded magnificently. A city that is world-renowned for its medical prowess and internationally-touted physicians and surgeons. A city that does not hide its opinion or tolerate crap from anybody.

And despite all of that - not a peep.

This detoxification process that Cruise is hawking consists of high doses of niacin, moderate aerobic exercise, intermittent dry saunas to "force sweating", and of course, vitamin supplementation. As medically sound as it seems (can you hear the sarcasm?), the detox regimen has never, ever been reported to yield any positive health effects. It is not cited in PubMed, you will not read about it in any medical journal, and it has never been reported in a case series, let alone a randomized control trial, demonstrating any therapeutic or clinical benefit.

Yet no one has come out publicly to say that this might even be harmful to men and women who made a great sacrifice for our great city.

Well, let us be the first with a medical background to shout loudly that this is a huge load of Scientologic excrement. If Travolta and Cruise and all of the other Hubheads want to donate money to the 9/11 workers, why not consult with the Mayor and ask where their dollars could be most helpful? And why hasn't Bloomberg, who usually does not hesitate to share his pragmatic opinions, weigh in on this matter?
It is completely irresponsible to offer a sham therapy in the hopes of converting some desperate folks and Cruise should be admonished for hocking his Scientologic mumbo jumbo. If he could offer even a shred of scientific evidence that this would benefit 9/11 workers we would not be so outraged but the only proof he can offer is his vacant grinning face and a wealth of scientology preachings.

Medicine in this country has shifted over the past twenty years to lean heavily on the evidence and base treatment on what has shown clincal benefit in large, multicenter trials. As physicians we have a responsibility to have an open mind but always fall back on the evidence. I have no problem with holistic forms of therapy and even placebo has shown actual clincal benefit in many forms - but using a hypothetical detoxification program to recruit new members and make promises of wellness reeks of dishonesty and ignorance.

So we said something.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Price of Doctoring

What the f$#% is up with the ever-increasing price of study materials, test prep courses and the exam fees? Can we get a break anywhere? The test-taking business has become a lucrative for-profit industry that has ended up costing medical students and residents, already strapped by ridiculous loans, huge amounts of money.

Aren't preparation for national Board exams and USMLE tests the responsibility of medical schools and residency/fellowship programs? That's the deal we make with our benevolent program directors - we work like dogs for crappy pay and they provide us enough education to pass our tests. Lately, one party is not living up to their half of the bargain - and last time I looked residents' pay still sucked.

Prior to becoming the financial boon that it has become, the purpose of these tests were to assess the knowledge base of graduates and assure that those graduating physicians were studied enough to make reasonable decisions. Now they have become just another money-draining requirement along the way to becoming a "real" doctor. Why we need to pay hundreds of dollars just to take the test and thousands more for the numerous books, courses and additional fees is beyond me. Essentially, we're paying to be tested after paying to be educated.

When the vast majority of medical trainees are taking out more than $100,000 in loans just to attend medical school and then scraping buy during residency, they should not have to pay additional money out of their own pocket just to pass a test.

Perhaps no one ever talks about this because so many professors actually get paid by these test prep courses to teach these prep classes. But education has become exhorbitantly expensive and many of the readers of our website, an online community of medical students and residents called, have echoed similar sentiments. Which is a nice way of saying that they don't stop bitching about paying $700 to take their medical licensing exam.

One partial solution could lie in our fantastically logical idea we fondly named: The Generous Professor Series. What is this, you ask? We have begun asking our (and your) favorite professors to make donations in the form of Boards-style test questions in their respective specialty. Of course, we credit them for their generosity and they are listed as one of the authors of this altruistic endeavor. When we have gathered enough questions in a particular residency or medical school specialty (e.g. anatomy, pathology, internal medicine) we will sell them online for super-cheap and force all of those overpriced study guides and Q&A books to match our quality and our price. This will get done much faster with your help, so if you think you're into the Generous Professor project, click here to WRITE us and start contributing questions ASAP.

The outcry against pharm reps has been a grassroots success against a major industry trying to penetrate the medical training field. Our opinion aside, a united medical student and resident voice has shooed may reps right out of their hospitals. Perhaps affordable and responsible education should be the next great cause. We don't even have to give up free lunch for it.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Medical Hospital from "Acceptable TV"

Fantastic parody from the peeps at Acceptable TV. Best line: "He's bleeding from a gunshot wound. I need 20 cc's of medicine."