Articles of Neurological Interest

I have a long and growing list of “things to maybe blog about”, and definitely too little time to cover it all. Following are some interesting articles that I’ve read recently (i.e. in the last year) that may be of interest to neurologists. Enjoy!

‘You Want a Description of Hell?’ OxyContin’s 12-Hour Problem.  An informative L.A. Times investigation of the regulatory, marketing, and clinical history of OxyContin in the context of the growing public health problem of narcotic and heroin abuse.

Lost for Words. I really like reading popular descriptions of neurological diseases and the patient experience. They provide a richness that is usually absent from scientific writings and is helpful for recognizing less common diseases. This Atlantic piece describes primary progressive aphasia.

The Neuroscientist who Lost Her Mind. This is a briefer New York Times piece by the director of the Human Brain Collection Core at the National Institute of Mental Health. She describes her experience of having brain metastases.

Why I Hope to Die at 75. This Atlantic article is by Ezekiel Emanuel, a Penn oncologist and bioethicist. The title is a little misleading in that he doesn’t necessarily want to drop dead precisely on his 75th birthday but rather wants to transition at that time to a comfort-only approach to his medical care, even for easily treatable conditions. It’s a very interesting and provocative piece.

Are You Ready for a Glorious Sunset? If the above article wasn’t provocative enough for you, try this Freakonomics podcast: What if, when faced with a serious illness toward the end of life, your insurance company offered you a cash reward to forgo (expensive) life-prolonging care in favor of palliative care?

A Racial Gap in Attitudes Toward Hospice Care. A short, but informative, New York Times piece on the differing ethnic perspectives about hospice and end of life care.

Balancing Faith and Science in the I.C.U. A loosely-related theme to that above.

Hipaa’s Use as Code of Silence Often Misinterprets the Law. This New York Times piece examines several misunderstandings about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.

Wastebasket patient. This essay is from the humanities section of the green journal. It provides a highly valuable lesson that one can sometimes make a difference even in the seemingly least promising cases. It’s a particularly important point for residents, bombarded as they are with consults of varying “appropriateness”.

The digital doctor: hope, hype, and harm at the dawn of medicine’s computer age. This one’s a book–one I enjoyed a great deal and highly recommend. It’s by Dr. Robert Wachter, a hospitalist at UCSF and one of the founders of that specialty. He writes about many facets of medicine that have been affected by computerization, especially electronic medical records. Many are quite obvious, such as the frustration of trying to input orders, clicking boxes, etc. Some are non-intuitive. One example: It used to be that medicine teams made a daily pilgrimage to the radiology reading room in order to review all of their patients’ chest x-rays, etc. Now that the images are available on PACS, this happens much less often. More generally, there is less interaction among the professionals caring for patients as each works in his/her computer-based silo–no more bumping into each other while looking for the same paper chart on the unit. This is just one of many interesting and important discussions of how technology is changing our profession.

About Justin A. Sattin

I'm a vascular neurologist and residency program director. I created this blog in order to share some thoughts with my resident and other colleagues, and to foster my own learning as well.
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