Medical Week in Review 4-5-13

How was your week?  Mine flew by even more quickly than usual.  Attempting unsuccessfully to run off those extra Easter pounds, busy shifts in the ER and working on MidlevelU's new job board (!) have left me sleep deprived and ready for a weekend of R&R.  To kick off your Friday, check out these recent happenings in the world of medicine.

Could our nation's zombie apocalypse obsession turn into a public health campaign?  Brandon Brown writer for the Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases thinks so.  He suggests the nation's current obsession could be used for education on health issues, neurological conditions like alzheimer's for example.  Turns out this isn't the first time these creepy creatures have been employed as a teaching tool.  In 2011, the CDC published a blog post titled "Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse" highlighting emergency readiness techniques.  The post was so popular it caused the CDC's site to crash. 

Forget ID by fingerprint.  Scientists have discovered each individual also has a unique 'Breathprint' allowing identification through exhalation.  I wonder how many onions you have to eat to throw off an ID? 

Most us have a spot, splotch or mole somewhere on our skin that deserves a second look.  Thanks to the Doctor Mole app, your phone can now help you analyze that pesky nevus helping determining it's malignancy status.  Doctor Mole snaps a photo of the mole in question determining it's size and color scheme and assessing risk of being cancerous.  With this app you can monitor moles over time detecting even slight changes in size and shape. 

The controversy over ER by appointment is heating up.  Some hospitals are allowing patients to make appointments for emergency department visits online.  This begs the question, is your condition really an emergency-worthy if you can plan it?

What if it were possible to prevent the growth of wisdom teeth and therefore their painful removal?  Dry-socket sufferers rejoice.  Researchers have discovered an association between children who have been given local dental anesthesia between the ages of two and six and the development of wisdom teeth.  They believe that local anesthesia could inhibit wisdom tooth growth.  

Ouch.  Last week a British woman gave birth to a 15lb. 7oz. baby.  The couple had no idea their child was going to be double the size of the average newborn.  When the baby's head appeared doctors were taken aback as well.  Not-so-little baby George is the second largest newborn ever delivered vaginally in the United Kingdom.

Chances are you think your clinic or hospital treats patients fairly.  Research shows otherwise.  In one study, callers to a primary care office indicating high socioeconomic status had a better chance of getting in to see a doctor than those reflecting lower incomes (22.6% versus 14.3%).  The study was done in Canada, a single payer healthcare system where physicians would be paid by either type of patient.  So, researchers concluded doctors hold negative attitudes toward those with lower incomes.   Maybe the bad attitudes are held among receptionists answering the phone?

This guy is literally starry-eyed.  After being punched in the face, this 55 year-old Austrian man developed a cataract in the shape of a star. 

Do your patients hate getting blood drawn?  A new gadget promises to solve this problem.  The new Touch Activated Phlebotomy (TAP) device collects blood painlessly from the capillaries eliminating the pain associated with a conventional needle stick.