Why haven’t we cured cancer yet?

Why haven’t we cured cancer yet? If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we cure cancer? If we can harness the atom, why can’t we cure cancer? How many times have you heard these questions, or variants thereof? How many times have you asked this question yourself? Sometimes, I even ask this question myself. Saturday was the two...

/ February 14, 2011

CAM on campus: Black History Month

I emerge from the haze of board exams and residency interviews to blog about a recent development on campus that disappointed me, involving a university celebration of Black History Month.

/ February 10, 2011

The Flu Vaccine and Narcolepsy

Last year it was reported that there was a possible increase in narcolepsy, a sleep disorder characterized by excessive sleepiness, in children who had received the Pandemrix brand of H1N1 flu vaccine in Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. However a review of the data did not find a convincing connection, although concluded there was insufficient data at present and recommended further surveillance. A...

/ February 9, 2011

Ear Infections: To Treat or Not to Treat

Ear infections used to be a devastating problem. In 1932, acute otitis media (AOM) and its suppurative complications accounted for 27% of all pediatric admissions to Bellevue Hospital. Since the introduction of antibiotics, it has become a much less serious problem. For decades it was taken for granted that all children with AOM should be given antibiotics, not only to treat the...

/ February 8, 2011
Clint Eastwood, "the good"; in this metaphor, the abandonment of research on the most spurious of pseudoscience.

The NCCAM Strategic Plan 2011-2015: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The NCCAM has a new strategic plan that involves funding good science on meaningful topics, which is good. But it's still talking about nonsense like reiki, which is bad, and mixing it with real, scientifically proven treatments, which is ugly.

/ February 7, 2011

Randi issues a challenge

Lest I be left out of the fun, I can’t help but point out that yesterday the Amazing One himself, James Randi, issued a challenge to manufacturers of homeopathic remedies and retail pharmacies that sell such remedies, in particular large national chains like Walgreens and CVS and large national chains that include pharmacies in their stores, such as Walmart and Target. This...

/ February 6, 2011

Of SBM and EBM Redux. Part IV: More Cochrane and a little Bayes

NB: This is a partial posting; I was up all night ‘on-call’ and too tired to continue. I’ll post the rest of the essay later… Review This is the fourth and final part of a series-within-a-series* inspired by statistician Steve Simon. Professor Simon had challenged the view, held by several bloggers here at SBM, that Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) has been mostly inadequate...

/ February 4, 2011

Complementary and alternative medicine in hospice care

A number of news outlets (e.g. Bloomberg Business Week, MSN.Com, US News, etc) have recently reported that use of complementary and alternative therapies (CAT) is widespread in hospice care facilities. This is based on a report from the Centers for Disease Control, Complementary and Alternative Therapies in Hospice: The National Home and Hospice Care Survey, Untied States, 2007. According to most news...

/ February 3, 2011
Mehmet Oz in 2008

Dr. Mehmet Oz completes his journey to the Dark Side

A couple of weeks ago, both Steve Novella and I criticized Dr. Mehmet Oz (a.k.a. “America’s doctor”) for not only hosting a man I consider to be a major supporter of quackery, but going far beyond that to defend and promote him. After that, I considered Dr. Oz to be a lost cause, with nothing to excuse him for his having embraced...

/ February 3, 2011

The Safety Checklist

During my recent stint covering the Neuro ICU I noticed for the first time a checklist posted above each patient bed. The checklist covered the steps to undergo whenever performing an invasive procedure on the patient. I was glad to see that the checklist phenomenon had penetrated my hospital, although the implementation of safety checklists is far from complete. A recent study...

/ February 2, 2011