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Showing posts from February, 2013

Do Probiotics Work? Marketing Mania Tramples Science

My kids know that I enjoy a spirited argument.   During the days when the dinner table was our public forum, I tried hard to offer a responsible voice of dissent on the issues before us.  I admit now that the view I espoused was not always my own, but one that I felt merited inclusion in the discussion.  I still do this with them and to others in my life who are willing to succumb to probing of the mind.   I willingly subject my own mind to the same process.  Because I am a gastroenterologist, folks assume that I have special expertise in nutrition.  I should, but I don’t.  Perhaps, medical education has evolved since I was in medical training, but in my day, a soft subject like nutrition was bypassed.   I am hopeful that I can remedy this knowledge vacuum in the years ahead. These days, nutrition is part of the burgeoning tsunami of wellness medicine, a discipline that races beyond known science as it seeps into the marketplace. Several times a week, I am queried on

Are Medical Bloggers Smug?

I love words.  When I write, I never resort to a thesaurus.  I enjoy the struggle of trying to find the right word.  There’s not a day that passes that I am not in the dictionary looking up a new word, or more likely, looking up the definition of a word for the 3 rd or 4 th time whose meaning I cannot recall.  I find that until I use the word, the definition is dangling out of reach.   There are many words that I think I use correctly, yet when I verify the actual definition, I find that I have been using the word more creatively than, perhaps, I should.  Indeed, recently I engaged in some verbal sparring over the word responsive.  I had thought that this word could be used to describe a response to an inquiry that was on point, not evasive and forthrightly addressed the matter at hand, yet I did not find this meaning included in the definition of standard dictionaries. Here’s how I have used the word. “Have you read the latest Whistleblower masterpiece?  Doesn’t that g

What Starbucks Can Teach Doctors

I’m sitting in a Starbucks now pleased that I found one of the few plush purple chairs to sink into.  While this is not my regular coffee haunt, I will patronize them at times.  I cannot drink their high octane coffee and will order some milder tasting overpriced beverage instead. I don’t come here for their food and drink.  I come in spite of them.  I buy a drink and consider this my rent for the time and space.  I am put off that one can’t use traditional English when requesting a specific beverage size here.  Is there something wrong with the conventional terms small , medium and large ?  You won’t hear me utter the highfalutin descriptions tall , grande or vente .  If I want a medium hot chocolate, my usual purchase, then those will be my chosen words.  At Dunkin Donuts, where coffee is velvet, the staff sport T-shirts emblazoned with the statement: Friends Won’t Let Friends Drink Starbucks. This should replace In God We Trust as our national motto. Yet, th

New York City Soda Ban is a Hard Swallow

New Yorkers are headed toward leaner times.  The New York City Health Board recently approved a ban on large sized soft drinks proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  Is Big Government now targeting Big People’s Big Drinks?  Does the government have the right to restrict free choice 0n what we eat or drink?  Does the argument that this is a necessary public policy initiative pass the smell (or taste) test?  Will this edict result in measurable weight loss?  Do we know as fact that weight loss saves health care dollars or do we assume so simply because the conclusion appears logical? First, the policy is riddled with nonsensical exceptions.  If banning large drinks is right and proper, then why not ban them all, not just certain sizes at certain establishments.  Does it make sense to ban large drinks at movie theaters, but permit continued guzzling at convenience stores and vending machines?  If the product is evil, then shouldn’t any size of these life threatening beverages be poured

Same Day Doctor Appointments? Read the Fine Print

Cleveland and northeast Ohio are not hospitable to private practice medicine.  I should know.  I’m one of them.  Private practice is fading as health care reform suffocates it by design.  When this occurs, the public will have lost physicians who, in my view, have practiced patient advocacy and service at a higher level than our employed counterparts.  Keep in mind that the first half of my professional career was spent as an employed physician and the latter half as a private practitioner.  So, I know the advantages and drawbacks of each model first hand. Of course, there are employed physicians who are outstanding doctors and private practitioners who are not, but I maintain that a physician who owns his business has a stronger incentive to provide excellent service to patients and to referring physicians.  This just makes sense.  Don’t we find that when we shop or dine out or stay at a Bed and Breakfast that there is a different level of service from those who own these businesses