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Medical Technology

5 Challenges Doctors Face with the Growth of Technology in Medicine

New advances in medicine and technology have improved health-care for both patients and doctors across the world. Many patients with chronic illness can be treated for diseases instead of symptoms, and new treatment regimens can help people of all ages live healthier lifestyles.

While many of these advances have improved health-care, they also introduce many challenges for doctors and service providers.

The following list portrays some of the greatest challenges faced by doctors as technology and patient care evolves.

1. Self-Diagnosis and Treatment by Patients

With the advent of the Internet, many patients are seeking diagnosis information online. While websites such as Wikipedia and WebMD are valuable, they can be a crutch in communicating health information to patients.

Many patients will self-diagnose online, and begin treatment without the oversight of a doctor. While health information available online is usually accurate, self-diagnosis involves an unprofessional and potentially dangerous interpretation of disease symptoms.

Many patients may not diagnose symptoms of an illness correctly, which can lead to a false diagnosis. This can result in a severe illness being misdiagnosed as a benign disease, and vice versa.

Further complicating the situation, some treatment options may be inappropriate for some patients, and can endanger their health.

2. Conflicting Treatment Plans with Self-educated Patients

Doctor-patient communication becomes impaired when patients self-diagnose. Many patients trust information found online more than that provided by a primary care physician.

Some patients will verify and factcheck all treatment options or diagnoses stated by a healthcare provider, without understanding the full process behind the diagnosis.

This can lead to lapses in treatment, belligerence in communication with healthcare providers, and failure to schedule follow-up visits.

3. Information Overload

Doctors and other health-care providers have access to a variety of screening and diagnostic tools. The information from these tools can yield large amounts of physiological data, which can become cumbersome and unwieldy to interpret.

A traditional doctor check-up may involve a check of blood pressure, pulse, temperature, appearance, and a physical examination.

New technology can yield much larger sets of data, ranging from a variety of physiological responses to stimuli in the environment, to induction of disease through variable gene expression.

Interpreting large data sets requires the use of novel technology. Many symptoms may not provide adequate information for an individual to interpret, but machine-learning technology can build diagnosis guides using these large data sets.

A wide variety of symptoms may not present any individual disease to a healthcare professional, but a disease that shows all these symptoms can be diagnosed using machine learning technology.

It’s important for doctors and healthcare professionals alike to understand the learning and diagnostic limitations of both humans and machines.

By combining computer-aided diagnosis with the guidance of a healthcare professional, many diseases can be diagnosed before emergent symptoms become a health hazard.

4. Bias in Treatment Options Provided

Many doctors and healthcare professionals are inundated with a barrage of pharmaceutical representatives, medical equipment salespeople, and software service providers.

Many journals of medicine are funded by private business interests, and may be subject to bias.

Providing objective health-care is becoming more challenging for doctors in all areas of medicine. Private interests can unconsciously influence treatment options that doctors decide to pursue.

A recent study revealed that the United States has one of the highest rates of diagnosed mental disorders of any country in the world. One of the reasons for the high number of diagnoses is bias through private interests.

Pharmaceutical companies manufacturing antidepressants, anxiolytics, and other drugs benefit from a high mental illness diagnosis rate.

5. Liability in Treatment through Online Doctor Reviews

Many doctors are finding themselves screened by patients. There are several prominent websites on the internet that allow patients to review individual doctors, and rate them on their effectiveness.

There have been a number of libel suits against websites offering these review services, but they are becoming a more permanent facet in modern healthcare.

[box type=”important”]Doctors must pay attention to how technology has evolved and changed over the past few decades. For many professionals, continuing education can ensure that doctors and healthcare providers can provide timely and beneficial service to all patients into the future.[/box]

If you want to learn more about how technology and medicine intersect, online universities have specific programs for the same.

Cord Blood

The Benefits of Cord Blood Donation

The advent of stem cell therapy is the future of medicine. These therapies have the potential to treat if not cure degenerative diseases. One natural barrier to stem cell research are the sociopolitical issues relating to stem cells harvested from aborted embryos. Cord blood, however, is another place to harvest stem cells that does no harm to an infant and doesn’t carry the same moral issues. Cord blood is painlessly taken from the umbilical cord and placenta, which is usually discarded as biological waste. With the numerous advantages of this technique, a flurry of hospitals and start up companies are emerging to handle placenta tissue donation.

Placental Marketplace

There are approximately six million pregnancies per year and only a fraction of these are donated or preserved. The gains of these collections are vast. A cord blood match can be injected into a patient to treat leukemia, sickle cell anemia, lymphoma and other diseases to name a few. Private cord blood banks are also popping up to store stem cells for individual patients. With benefits to recipients and potential benefits to a family, it is no wonder that this market is growing. By 2015, 10,000 cord blood transplants are expected to be completed worldwide.

The Process

Cord blood is blood rich in stem cells that is collected from the placenta and umbilical cord after childbirth. Post delivery, the umbilical cord is clamped, and blood from the cord and placenta is collected into a sterile bag called a cord blood unit. In the lab the blood is analyzed for blood forming cells and contamination before being stored in liquid nitrogen.

Private Vs. Public

Along with the science has come an influx of cord blood banks. Cord blood is free to donate at many hospitals. At the same time, there is also a privatized approach to cord blood collection intended for the child and their family.

Private

1. Your child’s heath: Cord blood needs a match to benefit the recipient. While it may be hard to find a match to a cord blood donation there is one recipient that we know is a match: the child it came from. Private banks are now charging to store cord blood encase the designated infant will ever need it.
2. Family recipient: Harvested cord blood is a stem cell match to the infant and also has a better chance to match a family member, which can be stored exclusively at a private bank.

Public

1. Donate to save life: With a public donation you are allowed to easily donate cord blood, free of charge, that will potentially save a life.
2. Science: A cord blood donation may also be used to advance medical science and cure diseases.

Storing or donating cord blood is by no means standard now, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t be someday. In the future, it may be as common as donating blood or getting an ultrasound: two procedures that only became normal practice in the last century. The chances that your stored stem cells will be used is difficult to measure, however, the benefits of this precaution to the patient is continuously developing and represents an exciting prospect for the future of medicine.

Listeria Monocytogenes

What You Should Know About the Recent Listeria Outbreak

Listeria has been continuing to spread from cantaloupe melon over the past few weeks at an increasing pace and subsequently has been causing a lot of chaos, resulting in more deaths across the country. It has been reported that a woman from Louisiana has died after being a victim of Listeria. It is believed the latest outbreak of listeria is the worst to hit the United States in a period of 10 years. So far more than 17 people have fallen victim to the disease and have died as a result. The whole scenario started as contaminated melons which entered the many markets across the country and as the death toll continues to rise, the nationwide worry has also reached epic heights. This is the sort of thing Hollywood makes movies about and now it appears this horror movie is beginning to unfold for real.

A total of more than 85 people have been diagnosed with the illness and the deaths keep rising as time goes by. It is most frequently elderly people, pregnant women and children who are affected most severely by the disease due to their weaker immune systems.

So how did all this start?

The listeria outbreak has been traced to Rocky Ford cantaloupes in Colorado, and since then, 18 states have reported the deadly infection subsequent to 300,000 shipments of the cantaloupes from Jensen Farms. Babies are also vulnerable and they need to be well taken care of to avoid becoming contaminated.

Some of the symptoms to keep an eye out for in kids are:

  • children becoming irritated quite easily
  • they do not want to be fed and start vomiting easily

When these symptoms start developing, you need to take the infected child or children to seek medical attention immediately before it is too late.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Listeria has an incubation period of about 30 days and so people who show any signs and symptoms should seek medical attention early. It might be difficult to see these signs a week after contamination and  it is preferable you visit a doctor with onset of the earliest signs. The CDC has reported that this disease is deadly compared to other diseases such as salmonella and E.colli.

Tips on how to avoid Listeria

The following guidelines have been issued by the CDC on how to avoid Listeria and E. coli contaminations:

  • Thoroughly cook food that is sourced from animals such as beef and poultry
  • Clean vegetables well before preparing them using running water
  • Keep all uncooked food away from the cooked or ready-to-eat meals
  • Avoid drinking unpasteurized milk and milk products
  • Make a habit of eating perishable foods as soon as possible and avoid keeping them for long

The above ways can help one avoid listeria and other deadly infections such as E. coli.

Medical Island’s Top 10 Medical Blogs

Top 10 Medical Blogs

 Blogging has of late become a regular past-time among various professionals and the medical profession is no exception. Medical Blogging requires serious consideration of the audience and the topics to be covered. Medical Professionals across the globe keep themselves updated through various electronic media and the internet has become the ultimate source of medical information for most of them.

Medical blogs make up a major chunk of the information available on the internet. They cover a range of topics from providing regular medical updates to the peculiar blog that talks about mundane medical terms and nuances. Medical Blogs are either started by individuals, run by some companies and organisations or an amalgamation of both. The vast number of medical blogs made the task of finding the “BEST” a serious business.

It is only true that no single blog could be the same for the entire audience, hence the ranking provided here is arbitrary based on my personal preferences. Without much ado, here is my list of the “TOP 10 MEDICAL BLOGS”

1. KevinMD Blog

2. Science Roll

3. GeriPal

4. Practical Bioethics

5. The Health Care Blog

6. Life in the Fast Lane

7. Creativity in Healthcare

8. Doc Gurley

9. Academic Life in Emergency Medicine

10. CasesBlog – Medical and Health Blog

I enjoyed reading many other medical blogs, but the ones mentioned here really caught my attention. I hope you too enjoy reading and following these blogs.

You will have suggestions to make about the selection or your own collection of favourite medical blogs. If so, post them in the comments section so that I can create another list of “The Best 100 Medical Blogs”.

[box type=”note”]If you want to setup your own medical blog for free or read stories from numerous practitioners and patients check out CausePages.[/box]

Funny Medical Abbreviations

Funny Medical Abbreviations

Hospital lingo can be dead serious, very serious, serious, not serious, jolly, light hearted, funny, hilarious or absolutely insane. Abbreviations and acronyms make it to the top of the list when it comes to medical humour and sarcasm. I can never get enough of it and I scourged the net to find some interesting ones to add to my kitty of funny medical abbreviations. You can find them in the nurse’s note, the doctor’s scribble, and even the technician’s records, not to forget the graffiti in the rest room of the hospital. Humour finds a special place in the hospital and its daily humdrum. Here is my list of Funny Medical Abbreviations and Acronyms. Enjoy.

ABITHAD – Another Blithering Idiot – Thinks He’s A Doctor.

ADR – Ain’t Doin’ Right.

AGMI – Ain’t Gonna Make It

ART – Assuming Room Temperature (recently deceased).

ATS – Acute Thespian Syndrome (the patient is faking illness)

ATSWWT – Always Thinks Something’s Wrong With Them.

CNS-QNS – Central Nervous System – Quantity Not Sufficient.

CTD – “Circling The Drain”. May also mean “Certain To Die”

DAAD – Dead As A Doornail.

DBI – Dirt Bag Index – multiply the number of tattoos by the number of missing teeth to give an estimate of the number of days since the patient last bathed.

DIC – Death Is Coming, Death In Cage – used by veterinarians describing the complications of Disseminated intravascular coagulation

DRT – Dead Right There.

EFT – Eleventh Floor Transfer (in a 10 floor hospital; refers to patient who is very close to death)

FDGB – Fall Down Go Boom.

FFFFF – Fat, Female, Fertile, Forty and Flatulent

FF or FFY – Frequent Flyer – A patient who returns to a medical provider for everything.

FLD – Funny Looking Dad.

FLK – Funny Looking Kid – used to indicate a child (usually a newborn) whose habitus or overall appearance, while normal in gross anatomy, suggests a need further medical investigation for congenital and genetic anomalies.“Funny”, in this sense, means strange or unusual, not laughable.

FOS – Full Of Shit, a diagnosis given to a patient that is likely not telling the truth or, alternatively to a patient with a bowel obstruction.

FTD – Fixing To Die.

FTF – Failure To Fly.

FLGD – Familial lack of Genetic Diversity.

FTW – Friggin Train Wreck (patient with multiple problems).

GOK – God Only Knows.

GFPO – Good For Parts Only.

GGTG – Gomers Go To Ground (they fall out of bed or gurneys).

GLM – Good Looking Mum.

GOMER – “get out of my emergency room” – a patient, usually poor or elderly, in the emergency room with a chronic, non-emergency condition. The name was popularized by Samuel Shem in his novel The House of God.

GPO – “Good for Parts Only”

GTO – Gomer Tip Over.

HP – Hispanic Panic, used to describe a Hispanic patient who believes their condition is worse than it actually is. This is generally a result of the perceived over-dramatic and theatrical nature of many Hispanic cultures.

LOBNH – Lights On But Nobody Home

LOLINAD – Little Old Lady In No Acute Distress.

LOLTWO – Little Old Lady Totally Whacked Out.

MFC – Measure For Coffin.

M & Ms – mortality and morbidity conferences where doctors and other health-care professionals discuss mistakes and patient deaths

NAD – Not Actually Done

NFS – Normal For Swindon.

O2T – Oxygen Thief.

ODD&DDR – Out ‘De Door and Down ‘De Road.

PAFO or PFO – Pissed And Fell Over

PBBB – Pine Box By Bedside.

PGT – Pissed and Got Thumped

PIP – Pyjama Induced Paralysis.

PITA – Pain In The A**.

PJAR – Person Just Ain’t Right.

PPP – Piss Poor Protoplasm – a patient endowed with inferior/defective genetic material

SALT – Same As Last Time.

SNEFS – Sub-Normal Even For Suffolk.

SWAG – Scientific, wild-A** Guess.

TBW – Tossed By Wave.

TEETH – Tried Everything Else; Try Homeopathy.

TEON – Two Eyes One Nose.

TMB – Too Many Birthdays.

TOBAS – Take Out Back And Shoot.

TTGA – Told To Go Away.

TTR – Tea Time Review

TUBE – Totally Unnecessary Breast Examination, often used to refer to an EKG done with the sole purpose of looking at a female patients breasts

UBI – “Unexplained Beer Injury”

UDI – “Unexplainable Drinking Injury”

WDWNF – Well Developed Well Nourished Female.

WNL – Used for recording vital signs. It can mean “within normal limits” or “we never looked”.

WTDB (Pronounced “whiskey tango DB”) – White Trash Douchebag

6PFP – 6-pack and a fishing pole, as in “this patient doesn’t need chemo, he needs 6PFP.” – Usually referring to an end-stage patient who should go die somewhere else.

funny medical abbreviations

I loved compiling these from various sources. It will be cool if you can send in your suggestions. Feel free to add your own through the comments. I will append the list above to make it more comprehensive.