History of Medicine

Medicine and surgery in 1900. Should you watch TV’s latest medical drama?

Someone recently stopped you and said, “I can’t believe you are not watching [Breaking Bad, Mad Men, OITNB, Downton Abbey, House of Cards].” You made some reference about the lead character, but know you don’t have the time to watch one episode, let alone 4 seasons on Netflix to catch up.  I did indulge in HBO’s True Detective. Completely worth it. Largely to simply understand these hilarious memes. When the latest buzz surrounded a medical drama during the turn of the 20th century, New York City, and cable television’s ability to hold nothing back, I had to tune in. In the first episode of Cinemax’s new adventure in highbrow cable television, The Knick, the lead surgeon announces, “Let’s give them a show.” Does the show deliver? Before the opening credits, the superstar surgeon of the Knickerbocker Hospital visited a brothel and found the remaining vessel to help propel the cocaine. Added…

Rock and Roll Medicine. Jack White brings historic public health mainstream.

[caption id="attachment_10799" align="alignleft" width="300"] www.thirdmanrecords.com[/caption] Jack White, of the White Stripes, the Racounters, and others, introduced a solo album last month called Lazaretto. It's an appropriate name for a rock star trying to maintain a dead musical form - the vinyl record. He made it in the Guinness Book of World records last month while recording and releasing the album in under four hours. (He did the same recently with Neil Young on Jimmy Fallon.) For many, records are alive and well, a lazarus move in the age of digital music. What were lazarettos? The lazarettos were isolation facilities, from plague or leprosy, but really places of death, with no chance of resurrection. White romanticizes the notion of quarantine, and of lazarettos in this NPR interview. He wishes he could have a month of a self-imposed quarantine to achieve some mindfulness, peace. In today's ever connected world, radio silence is…

You Can Observe A Lot by Just Watching.

"You can observe a lot by just watching." -Yogi Berra "You see, but you do not observe." - Sherlock Holmes, A Scandal In Bohemia. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle I walked into the patient's room day after day and heard the same line. "Sorry, Doc…not ready to get home. My breathing is still bad." He was sitting up, resting on the bedside table, looking tiny in the expansive, sterile hospital room. This small man with advanced COPD came in six days earlier with an acute exacerbation. The team rounded on him daily. We filled up his room, piling on the windowsill, filing around his bed. His vital signs improved quickly, and by day three, his numbers were great and his lungs opened up. He barely made it through each syllable on day one; almost a week later he was sounding out sentences, making his way to paragraphs. "It seems you are…

What was the first hospital? Origin story from Roma

"Where do we come from?" My 5-year-old asks us that regularly, usually in the quiet time of a car ride. My wife answers by saying, "Great question." And then, "Oh, look at the bright yellow school bus." Crisis averted. If I'm asked, I'll start talking about monkeys, throw out something about Tiktaalik and they will say, "Oh, Daddy you are so funny," and then run away. Origin stories are a universal pastime. The question of where we come from resonates in many realms. The ultimate lies in our existence, and our lives are filled with searches for our ancestral origins, the story of how we met our lifelong companions, the stories of where we were born, stories of our cities and countries. Mythologies tell the story of us. They create a shared culture and a shared identity, around something that's greater than ourselves, and begins to give focus to where…

Lay Down Your Weapons

Maybe it's the way I was raised, to be polite and sensitive to others; I am a southern girl in so many ways, but I have been a southern expat for some time now weaned on Midwestern practicality. Recently the Nurse Practitioners Modernization Act was introduced in New York. As of January 1st, this law will allow nurse practitioners (NPs) with greater than 3,600 hours of experience to practice without a written practice agreement with a supervising physician. Seventeen states currently have no collaborative practice requirements with physicians. The idea behind this type of legislation is to improve or promote healthcare access for patients who may otherwise not be able to see a physician. The requirements are often viewed as a barrier to practice, as well as a disincentive to registered nurses (RNs) who otherwise would be motivated to pursue advanced certification. NPs easily argue that having to have a…