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I Can Hazmat? 8 Things You Learn in Hazmat Training

* Abby Norman is certified by FEMA for Level C gear in a Hospital Setting 1. Preparedness is essential because hazards are actually everywhere, and it doesn’t take much of certain hazards to become full blown “situations”.  Our instructor gave one example of a woman who broke two small mercury thermometers inside her house and needed complete decontamination (decon) of herself and her home. Also, many hazardous chemicals can be purchased at Wal-Mart: mace and pepper spray, pesticides and lighter fluid just to name a few. And you may not realize it but the big trucks that transport large quantities of these materials to your local Wal-Mart (through your neighborhood) are unmarked even though they contain these hazards. The company stays strategically under the weight limit for labeling their trucks with warnings, but just because you have 999 lbs of a substance as opposed to the 1,000 lbs that would require the truck be labeled doesn’t mean you have less of a hazard should that truck turn over on I-95 (or worse yet, in your front yard). Those trucks, and the ones that are actually marked and carrying large amounts of hazardous materials, go through your tiny neighborhood in the middle of the night for several reasons, but mostly because should a disaster occur, the kill rate is lower because they’re in a less populated area.   2. People...

The Danger in Hollywood’s Favorite Medical Myths

Television has no shortage of doctor dramas. Whether you’re an avid House fan or dedicated to Grey’s Anatomy, you are familiar with the miraculous phenomena that occur every day in these hospitals. Contrary to popular belief, real hospitals are not the abundance of diagnostic mysteries as Dr. House depicts them to be.  If you’re a new intern at a hospital, you probably will not fall for a dreamy resident whilst dodging his estranged wife who wants to get back together… probably. Unfortunately, many of our favorite doctor dramas fabricate not only drugs or clinical trials, but also blur the lines between entertainment and what really happens in various medical procedures and practices. While entertaining for viewers, it creates a potentially dangerous dissonance between the anticipated experiences—as fostered by these shows—and the actual experience. New York Times writer Dhruv Khullar elaborates on this distinct difference in his article “The CPR We Don’t See on TV.” Khullar notes that the gap was so wide between what he was prepared to see, likely from TV shows, and what he actually saw, that the patient “looked more like a survivor of CPR than of cardiac arrest.” Many CPR patients suffer blunt trauma including bruising, bleeding, or fractures to the ribs, sternum or local organs. As an almost-doc and certified EMT, one of the most frustrating things to watch is TV CPR. However, it...

7 Secrets to the Freakish Recoveries Athletes Are Now Making from Destructive Knee Injuries

Here are 7 modern knee treatments (quotes are from Harlan Selesnick, M.D., the orthopedic surgeon for the Miami Heat): 1. Physical therapy or anti-inflammatories A common problem in athletes is jumper’s knee, a condition due to overuse. Most players with patella tendonitis can treat their knees with anti-inflammatories or physical therapy. Breakdown: Physical therapy includes flexibility, stretching, strengthening the muscle and increasing range of motion, as well as stimulation or cold laser therapy. Anti-inflammatories (prescription or over the counter) include Advil, Aleve, Celebrex, Mobic and Motrin, or a cortisone shot. Also, ice postgame is prevalent around the league. How Effective? They often are very effective, but in some cases more extensive treatment is needed. Treatment Cost? Physical therapy is usually more than $100. Anti-inflammatory drugs are usually less than $100. Back to playing? Usually one day to a week.   2. Synvisc Synvisc is used in athletes diagnosed with early arthritis, who usually have lower concentrations of hyaluron. Breakdown: It’s a one-time injection-based lubricant into the knee joint. “It cuts down on the wear and tear, and cuts down on the pain in 75 percent of people with arthritis. We’ve actually done a study showing that it’s pretty effective in professional athletes. I know a lot of the NFL teams use it, NBA teams use it, pro tennis. There are different forms of it, but the one that I use most commonly is the one...

Chocolate Covered Medicine?

The Nestle We Know: Most of us associate Nestle with coffee and chocolate. Personally, I associate Nestle with amazing chocolate chip cookies that are great especially after a long study session. Nestle and the Health Sciences:  According to Reuters, apparently Nestle and health sciences have a lot more in common than I realized. Namely, a brand new $70 million research facility in New Jersey. This would also not be Nestle’s first investment into the health sciences either. They have also invested $65 million in Seres Therapeutics that researches the healthy bacteria in the GI tract and has signed a deal with a swiss based company that is developing diagnostic tests for Alzheimer’s. Reuters says that it could be a move on Nestle’s part to both quell concerns about “unhealthy” foods that they sell and also to branch out into new and lucrative healthcare markets.    PBS    What does this have to do with med school? As med students and future physicians, we are exposed to a lot of articles and information. Therefore, it is important for us to analyze this information and understand bias’ that might be present. Am I implying that health information from Nestle will be skewed? No, not necessarily. However, it is important to be aware of where information is coming from and be able to critically analyze it as well. Personally, I will be...

A Sad Day For Bacon…

According to Reuters, some of the country’s favorite foods seem to cause cancer!!! This can’t be good…   Nickelodeon   The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) just stated in a press release  that processed meats like hot dogs and bacon have been linked to causing cancer. How much processed meat would you need to eat in order to start having negative effects? Well, if you’re looking for a comparison, 50g/day (about one hot dog) has being linked to an 18% increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. The studies correlate most strongly to processed meats though and not fresh cuts of red meat. However, according to Reuters, some studies show that we have to be careful when eating red meat as well. Disney   What do we do now? Well, that is a great question. I believe that this information will take some time to settle in for everyone. It seems as though we might have to back off of the bacon wrapped everything trend that seems to have swept the country recently. Fox   Maybe we should just stick to chicken for the next barbeque…. Disney Feature Image by Pleated...

The Big Shift in Soda Consumption

Soda sales are declining as Americans are shifting away from popular carbonated beverages to healthier alternatives, and diet soda is not an exception.  This news may come as a surprise for people who just can’t seem to get through the day without a caffeinated swig, but for health advocates it’s a welcomed turn of events. In fact, many city officials across the country are imposing taxes on soda, making the products more expensive to buy and in many schools and government offices, the sale of soda has been prohibited.   So how are soda companies adjusting to these changes? Most have recognized that competition with health and wellness is inevitable. According to the New York Times, soda companies are now experimenting with selling smaller packages, to prevent people from consuming “too much,” and are promising “real sugar,” as opposed to high-fructose corn syrup. We have also witnessed a evolution in  soda bottle designs. For example, Coca-Cola now personalizes their bottles with common first names and Sprite prints popular song lyrics on their packaging.   Nevertheless, research suggests that soda sales have hit their lowest level in nearly two decades and bottled water sales are steadily on the rise. Highly active consumers seeking more nutrient value in their beverages are turning to water fortified with vitamins and specialty drinks such as matcha tea, a powdered green tea high in antioxidants which is emerging as a healthier alternative to...

New HIV Vaccine Candidate to Begin Human Trials

  It has been a long road in the battle against HIV/AIDS since the epidemic began in the early 1980s. However, in 2013, the virus hit what was widely referred to as a tipping point when, for the first time, more people were newly being treated with antiretroviral drugs than became newly infected with HIV. Despite this milestone, there are still 35 million people estimated to be living with HIV today — 19 million who are estimated to be unaware of their HIV-positive status — and 2 million more people are being infected each year.   Recently, the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine announced that for the first time, it will begin testing its HIV vaccine candidate in humans.   The vaccine has previously been tested on primates, and it is the cumulation of nearly twenty years of research. While not the only HIV vaccine candidate to begin human trials, the research team for this vaccine is being led by Dr. Robert Gallo, who was one of the first doctors to search for the virus causing AIDS, and is well known for his and the Pasteur Institute’s co-discovery that HIV is the cause of AIDS.* Dr. Gallo says the institute has been home to the research and development of the vaccine as it went from “a concept on paper, to the test tube, to tissue culture, to small...