Suneel Dhand picture

Promoting Healthy Eating in Hospitals

I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was a medical student, rounding with my team, and we had just talked to a diabetic patient who was recovering from a myocardial infarction. The Attending looked over at the side and saw some chocolate donuts and cakes lying on the tray table, which had been brought in by the patient’s relatives. He shook his head disapprovingly and said, “I don’t think those are going to do you any good!”

He had an excellent point. If there’s one place in the world where we should be promoting healthy eating and addressing the real source of so many of the chronic diseases that are afflicting our society, it’s in our nation’s hospitals. Yet we aren’t. Read more…


Kim Kardashian, the FDA, and the Future of Online Medical Content

Last week, the Washington Post reported that the FDA has issued a warning letter to a pharmaceutical company concerning statements Kim Kardashian made about a new prescription drug. On both Instagram and Twitter, Kardashian touted the effectiveness of Diclegis, a drug indicated for pregnancy-associated morning sickness. Ms. Kardashian has a substantial following on social media – including nearly 35 million on Twitter and nearly 45 million on Instagram. She is also a paid spokesperson for the drugmaker Duchesnay USA. Read more…

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Changing Patient Feedback Forms Could Transform Healthcare

We’ve all seen them: those once paper but increasingly digital forms that enthusiastically request our feedback.Tell us how we’re doing, they cheerfully announce, or Help us improve!

Some of us even send them out as part of our practices or health systems or educational programs.

We also fill them out, both as regular citizens and as clinicians. Or we mean to. I certainly try to, with some exceptions. Recently, I deleted a survey from a hotel I stayed at for one night in a country I am unlikely to return to in this lifetime. I just didn’t care enough to bother. Read more…


A Fast, Powerful Way to Help Patients Deal with Stress

Stress. It’s a powerful, nonspecific word for something that most patients have a lot of. And often they feel guilty for it. Many of my patients tell me they feel like they don’t have a right to feel stress. This stresses them out even more, as they try unsuccessfully to suppress their feelings, which snowball out of control. Read more…


Implant Lymphoma: A Case for Staying Current on Rare Diseases

Breast implant–associated anaplastic large cell lymphoma (BI-ALCL), a comparatively rare type of malignancy, is starting to gain notoriety as more cases are reported and published in the literature. The first case was identified in 1986 and found to be associated with a textured implant. Over time there have been a handful of studies attempting to identify a correlation between breast implants and the development of this disease. Read more…


Pediatrics and the Protective Parent

“If he is hungry when he wakes up, and you don’t let him eat, we’re taking him to another hospital,” the man shouted. I stood trapped between a protective papa bear and his cub. My instinct was to find an exit, but I braced myself for more. This father gave me one last glare before side-stepping around me and wrenching open the door to his child’s hospital room. I glimpsed the man’s profile, as he closed the door quietly behind him so as not to wake his sleeping son. Read more…


Social Media and Medicine: Training Digital Doctors

When it comes to physicians and social media, the past few years have been occupied with how we can make the transition to public life across these forums. Our dialogue has traditionally focused on digital immigrants – established physicians adjusting to life with new tools and a much more public voice. Therefore, the discussion begins with the argument for why a doctor should be online at all.

But another population gets little notice: digital natives who come to medicine already engaged with social media platforms. They are our future colleagues, individuals who are often quite comfortable with the tools of public dialog, but who lack the resources to learn how they should be used as professionals. To date, few institutions offer training on this front and as a result, students leave medical school having had, at best, a few token discussions of how to conduct themselves in this new frontier. Read more…


What Doctors Can Learn from Journalists about Ethics in Medical Reporting

As a physician who regularly discusses health news online and in the media, I find myself in a very fortunate position – I am able to quickly reach vast numbers of people and provide them with credible (and hopefully impactful) information on health and wellness. Because of this, just as in clinical interactions, I know I must put patients first, choosing my words carefully so that I can provide people with facts they need to better understand their disease state and treatment options. I also know that I must be aware of the fact that as opposed to clinical encounters, there is no opportunity for patient interaction. What I say must be geared toward stimulating further conversation between members of my audience and their own private physicians. Statements must be clear and evidence-based, and stories must be reported without bias. Read more…

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Talk Like a Doctor: Is There Gender Bias when Physicians Speak?

I have given a number of medical talks over the years – reports on my research, reviews of surgical topics, mentoring speeches, and grand rounds, among others. I prepare for these talks extensively but tend to speak extemporaneously to engage better with my audience. I’m pleased to say that, in general, I have received good feedback. Several times, however, I have been given the “constructive criticism” that my voice is “girly” or “immature.”

I will be the first to admit that I am not an expert on oration or public speaking. I have no background in stage acting or performance. And despite the speech accolades of my youth (as a high schooler I was the Lincoln-Douglas Debate state champion in California, and while in college a friend and I won the Adams Cup for Parliamentary Debate at Yale), I know very little about what the ideal speaking voice is supposed to sound like. Read more…

Joel Kahn 2

The Importance of Smaller Clinical Trials

It’s a common scenario. A new treatment is tested in a randomized study of, say, 8,000 people, and the results are overwhelmingly positive (so much so that the trial is even stopped early). Soon after, the drug is released with a lot of fanfare and promotion.

But what about smaller trials that showed positive results, yet didn’t have the financial backing of a major device or pharmaceutical company? How does the medical community respond when there is no team to educate and promote to the public or prescribers? In my field of cardiology, I see many examples of studies that, after perhaps a brief blip on the media radar, turn into buried pearls – full of value, yet largely forgotten. Read more…