Doctor 007

Let’s imagine an action-packed screenplay full of suspense and intrigue and romance (just a little) and… medicine.  Yes, medicine. And why not? After all, in medicine we have potential for biochemical warfare, technological advances in diagnosing infectious disease in relatively remote areas , glasses that would detect the slightest bit of emotion in an enemy’s expression, issues of governmental influence, conlicts of interest, and public confusion surrounding the intent of our efforts. Take the CIA’s strategy to catch Bin Laden by implementing a vaccination campaign, for example. Legitimate controversy surrounds this approach, but even the most imaginative screenwriter couldn’t have written that storyline.

Well, if one were to write this Bond-esque screenplay, the hero/heroine would likely be unrelenting and bullheaded. At times, he/she might be somewhat simplistic in his/her purist nature. This person would be dealing with frequent bureaucratic issues and reprimands from above while still trying to save the world from injustices. This doctor would have no time for meaningful relationships and would most likely be closer to a “cowboy” than a member of the “pit crew.” Like Bond, this doctor would be simultaneously loved and hated.

And if one were to produce this screenplay, there would be no need for a new theme song, as it has already been written:

Lyrics (though the music –having the classic 007  “feel” to it – is worth listening to):

Monday finds you like a bomb

That’s been left there ticking there too long

You’re bleeding

Some days there’s nothing left to learn

From the point of no return

You’re leaving

Hey hey I saved the world today

Everybody’s happy now

The bad things gone away

And everybody’s happy now

The good thing’s here to stay

Please let it stay

There’s a million mouths to feed

And I’ve got everything i need

I’m breathing

And there’s a hurting thing inside

But I’ve got everything to hide

I’m grieving

Hey hey I saved the world today

Everybody’s happy now

The bad things gone away

And everybody’s happy now

The good thing’s here to stay

Please let it stay

Doo doo doo doo doo the good thing

Hey hey I saved the world today

Everybody’s happy now

The bad things gone away

And everybody’s happy now

The good thing’s here to stay

Please let it stay

Everybody’s happy now

*Thanks to Jan Handerson for inspiring this post by pointing out the appropriateness of this song to the field of medicine (sometimes, anyways).

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The Doctor Will Really See You Now

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”

– William Shakespeare

In our respective tragedies/comedies (depending on the moment), some individuals are better actors, revealing and hiding emotions with relative ease, portraying exactly the “I” that is scripted in their minds. Others, such as those who turn red at the slightest bit of discomfort, may try as they might but eventually have to give in to the transparency of their physiology.

Well, the playing (acting) field may have just been evened.

MIT’s Media Lab has engineered a remarkable pair of glasses “that are set to transform how we interact with each other” by accurately detecting very subtle facial cues that would be otherwise missed. The initial concept was born with the intention of helping people with autism pick up on these cues.

Inside the glasses is a camera the size of a rice grain connected to a wire snaking down to a piece of dedicated computing machinery about the size of a deck of cards. The camera tracks 24 “feature points” on your conversation partner’s face, and software developed by Picard analyses their myriad micro-expressions, how often they appear and for how long. It then compares that data with its bank of known expressions(see diagram).

From New Scientist http://bit.ly/kl0lvh

Roger Ebert (on Twitter) says, “These spectacles could destroy social life as we know it. And diplomacy.” But just imagine the possibilities within a doctor-patient interaction if a doctor could more easily detect skepticism or hope or fear or frustration. Perhaps, the use of these “social x-ray specs” would be limited in the case of a highly botox-ed face, but for the majority of patients, it could potentially enhance doctor-patient communication.

So, I say, “Where can I get one of these?”

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For Safe Grilling, Use a Meat Thermometer

It’s the Fourth of July and you’re ready to have your friends and family over for a barbeque. You’re setting up your grill and going down your checklist. Meat? Check. Buns? Check. Beer? Check. Meat thermometer….?

What’s that? No thermometer?

Halt.

Go over to your kitchen right now and pull out that meat thermometer that’s been hiding in the junk drawer since two Thanksgivings ago. If you don’t have one, run to the grocery store and get one before you forget because you will be almost certainly be distracted when your guests arrive and and will end up relying on the false security of your vision.

According to the USDA’s Federal Safety and Inspection Service website, 1 out of every 4 hamburgers turns brown before it reaches a safe internal temperature. So, use that thermometer. Here is info from the website, followed by other important reminders:

USDA Recommended Safe Minimum Internal
Temperatures

Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.

Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F as measured with a food thermometer.

Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.

Note that allowing meat to “rest” (which means waiting at least 3 minutes after pulling the meat off of the heat source, usually covered with foil) allows the temperature and “doneness” to even out.

Avoid using wooden cutting boards when handling meat, particularly if it is raw or potentially undercooked. Instead, use at least two dishwasher-safe, plastic cutting boards (one for meat and one for
vegetables).

DO NOT cross-contaminate. I repeat DO NOT cross-contaminate. That applies to working surfaces and marinades, too. Do not brush meat that is cooking on the grill with the same liquid your raw meat was sitting in. Instead, prior to mixing the marinade with the meat, save a portion of it for use on the grill.

So have fun and enjoy your time with friends/family, but protect them by following the guidelines above.

Have a Happy (and Safe) Fourth of July!

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