Monday, October 31, 2011

Axioms for Community Medicine

I've been a community MD for a few months and I recently came across Dr. Rob Orman's ERCast.  This is a great podcast that's supremely relevant for community ED docs. One of his recent podcasts had a discussion on academics vs. community medicine (including Drs. Scott Weingart and Rob Rogers). Dr. Orman ends the podcast with these powerful axioms:

1.  When first starting out (6-12 months) think of it as doing an EM fellowship in community medicine.

2.  Give service to the group.  Devote a chunk of time to group practice by adding value, i.e. develop U/S, clinical pathways for PE, A.fib.

3.  Remember, proximity to a CT scanner (or MRI) is not a reason to order the test.

4.  You can only see ONE patient at a time.  The patient in front of you is the only patient you have.  If you focus on the waiting room, the last patient, you might end up spinning your wheels.

5.  Be nice to the nurses.  They can help and teach you or really HURT you.

6.  Take an advanced airway course early on.  This will reap huge dividends throughout your career.

7.  You are always a student FIRST.  Keep on learning and staying current, in addition to LLSA/CME.  Be the best emergency physician you can be.

8.  Be gracious with your consultants and be congenial.  These are people you will be working with for a LONG time. “Seek first to understand, then be understood.” ~ Stephen Covey

9.  Go to the monthly meeting.  Although you may think they are optional, they are not.

10.  The silent chief complaint is anxiety. In addition to the chief complaint, alleviate the anxiety of their symptoms.

11.  Always advocate for the patient.  When in a bind, ask yourself, “Self, what's best for my patient?”

Listen to ERcast by subscribing on iTunes!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Collected Tweets from ACEP Scientific Assembly 2011

In case you missed my tweets from ACEP in San Francisco, here is a collection of some of my updates.

Go with person with possible SAH & get immediate CT angio if positive. @emcrit

Pods sign: one spot that orthopods can listen to heart, lung, abdomen and document WNL...We Never Looked. Henry

More than 2 nerves affected in posterior fossa = bleed or tumor. Check articulation, word differentiation. Henry

Dizziness questions: Did the room spin? Did you feel like you were going to faint? Is this worse at night? Henry 

What is Purpose of lecturing?  Get people to learn. Do Audience centered speaking. Mattu

Audience will forget 40% of new content by 20 mins. After one week, 90% of new content forgotten. Mattu 

Limit content to 3-4 points U want them to remember. Be explicit about these points. Mattu 

Audio and videotape your lectures to improve speaking skills. Mattu

Buy "Secrets of Successful Speakers" by Nick Morgan, Lilly Walters, ET al. Mattu 

"At the end of this lecture, I want the audience to___". Plan for this when beginning your presentation. Mattu 

Come up with take home points and conclusion FIRST. What behavior change is the goal? Mattu 

Anything more than 4 points in your lecture and they will remember ZERO! Mattu 

Customize your lecture for the specific audience: degree, training level, specialty, native language, why are they there? Mattu 

Have a dynamic title in lecture. Use words like Pitfalls, Advances, Pearls. Death, disasters, killer NOT chapter titles. Mattu 

Start strong and finish strong! Grab their attention. Memorize the intro. Start with humor or a challenging case. Mattu 

Don't take questions at the end. Its a weak finish. Final 10 seconds are the most memorable. Mattu 

Don't need as many visuals. Simple slides. Big fonts: tahoma and arial are good. You are the message! Mattu 

Approach the sleepy or texting person and they will wake right up!" Mattu 

It's not what you say, it's how you say it. Tone, speed, body language. Mattu

Have 2 jokes prepared just in case of an AV glitch. Mattu 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On Rest and Balance

I finished emergency residency on June 31, 2011.  Some of my co-residents started their jobs the next day and accordingly began earning a salary immediately.   Even with the the looming student loan payments, I needed a rest.

I chose to go to San Marcos La Laguna in Guatemala.  My initial travel plan was to go to San Marcos for medical spanish lessons, then Antigua, then Copan Ruins in Honduras, and lastly spend four days getting scuba certified in Utila, Honduras.

Once I got into the small town by Lake Atitlan via shuttle & tuk-tuk, I realized that I could not leave San Marcos quite yet.  I decided to change my entire travel plans and stay in one spot.

San Marcos is special because there is a tranquil energy vortex here.  There are also a number of healers and wise people in this spot.   They use massage, Reiki energy healing, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, cranial-sacral massage, crystals, meditation, yoga, and the Mayan Calendar.

It was definitely a change of pace from allopathic medicine.  I used this time to rejuvenate myself from the twelve years of training to be an emergency physician.  It was a pleasure to interact with people of the San Marcos community and take time to slowly enjoy each moment.  Some days, I would simply lay in a hammock and stare into the clouds or watch the hummingbirds.

I learned many things about myself, my path in life, and the importance of balance in life.  When I came back to LAX a few days ago, I was saddened about what I had left behind.  But I also realized that I can create my own balanced life by planting the seed of tranquility.  As my friend says, "Creer es crear." Thank you, San Marcos La Laguna.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

An Anonymous Doctor Tweets About An Anonymous Patient

I am late to the discussion about a recent interaction between two doctors online. To summarize, the first doctor blogged about a second anonymous doctor for being unprofessional on Twitter.   This launched a massive debate about doctors' presence online.  Ultimately, the anonymous doctor deleted the Twitter account and the first doctor closed the comments section of the post.

After catching up on must-read blogposts from:





I've come to the conclusion about the importance of anonymity for some doctors online.   Even President Obama states, "I just miss — I miss being anonymous," after he won the presidential election.

Physicians are held to a high standard.  But, frequently we cannot meet that standard because we remain human. We dispense health tips and advice to patients, while failing to care for ourselves.  These societal and self-induced pressures may actually lead to higher suicide rates and drug/alcohol abuse in doctors.

In a Utweetpia, all doctors could proudly publish their names online and freely vent-rant-educate-entertain-share online.  But there is too much to lose if a post/tweet becomes viral or #trends.  As long as patients cannot be identified, I believe that anonymous doctors should be allowed their freedom of speech and appreciated for their transparency into the medical world.

BUT it is extremely difficult to be truly anonymous online.

From the BlogHerald:

"True anonymous blogging requires that you ensure there is no connection between your real identity and the site as well as no direct connection or traceable connection between your network/your computer and your blog’s server.
To be clear, there are ways to do this and many great guides have been written on this subject, including an official one by the EFF and one on TechSoup.
However, especially for someone new at using these tools, the process is intimidating and the since perfection is required to be completely safe, it’s virtually guaranteed that there will be a break in the protection."

Why Your Prescription Takes So Damn Long To Fill: A Foul-Mouthed, Liberal Pharmacist Breaks The Curse Of Christmas And Strikes Back Against The ... The Profession He Grudgingly Grew To Love

Friday, June 3, 2011


On Emergency Medicine from THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO CHOOSING A MEDICAL SPECIALTY, by B. Freeman, 2003. 

What makes a good emergency physician (EP)?

-Likes working with hands
-Adventurous, action-oriented leader, and team player
-Can make logical decisions during rapidly changing situations
-Likes the variety and unexpected
-Is capable of juggling multiple tasks at once
-Comfortable with broad knowledge base

2.8% of ALL physicans are EPs
70% are in private practice, 25% are in academics
EP's work an average of 38.7 hours per week
75% report that their salary is equal or higher than expected

2002 Match Statistics
-1,564 applicants for 1211 positions
-992 US seniors and 600 IMGs ranked at least on EM program
- 98% of all positions were filled in the Match

90 residency programs are a THREE-year program, 14 are a FOUR-year program, and 20 require three years of EM residency after a separate internship year.

EM residents also complete rotations in medicine, critical care, anesthesia, cardiology, and OB/GYN.    The bulk of their training consist of monthly rotations in adult and pediatric emergency medicine, trauma, surgery, toxicology, emergency medical services, and ultrasound. Many programs require research:)

Check out SAEM's website for detailed information about residency programs HERE.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

15 Must Have iPhone Apps for Emergency Physicians

1.  WikEM – This app from UCLA Harbor Residency is devoted to the practice of EM.  The content includes IV drip concentrations, initial approach to almost every complaint, emergency imaging, and emergency procedures.  Very easy-to-read and concise.  Cost: Free

2.    Epocrates – Easy to use app for drugs, pharmacology, pregnancy & lactation safety, and drug cost.  A nice bonus is the pill identification tool when your patient tells you, “I take the little pink pill.”  Cost: Free

3.    Medscape – From creators of WebMD, this app includes nearly every diagnosis and has a clinical, diagnostic, and treatment component.  It’s sort of like the free version of UpToDate on my iPhone.  Cost: Free

4.    Eye Handbook – This app is focused for ophthalmologists; however, some EM applicable sections are the Eye Atlas, Testing, and Patient Education.  Check out the Movies tab and download the Cheese Cartoon, an excellent distraction when calming pediatric patients or checking for extra-ocular movements.   Cost: Free

5.    Eponyms – Remember Takotsubo syndrome, Von Hippel-Lindau disease, or Alder’s sign?  This app provides a succinct description of various eponyms.  A great way to remember everything you forgot from medical school.   Cost: Free

6.    MedCalc – It helps you calculate CURB-65 Scores, fluid repletion for burns, glomerular filtration rates (GFR), and even view a dermatome map.   When you double tap an equation, it gets uploaded to your “Favorites” file for easy access.   Cost: Free

7.    Radiology 2.0 – Created by a radiologist and a medical student, this app’s subtitle is “One Night in the ED.”  It has clear CT scan images of small bowel obstruction, aortic injury, appendicitis, and more.   You can even quiz yourself by hiding the answers.   Once you review the scans, go to the discussion section and read the explanations.  Cost: Free

8.    Diagnosaurus – This app is useful when you want to expand your differential list.   All entries are organized by symptom, disease, or organ system.   For frequently viewed entries, simply click the star in the bottom right hand corner to add to your Favorites.  Cost: $0.99

9.    PediStat – When working with critical pediatric patients, it can be difficult to remember drugs dosages, tube sizes, and normal vital signs.  Simply plug in the weight, age, length/height, or Broselow Color on the first page.  You will now have accurate dosing information to resuscitate your patient.   Cost: $2.99

10. EMRA Antibiotic Guide 2011 – You may have the hard copy version but if you want to unload your pockets, you must download this app.  This amazing guide has antibiotic recommendations based upon organism, diagnosis, and organ system.  This version also has a dosing calculator to make your life easier!  Cost: $15.99 

11. Micromedex - Another useful resource for drugs and simple to use.  This includes both OTC and prescribed drugs.  The mechanism of action section is a little more in-depth compared to Epocrates.   Cost: Free

12. Pepid - This is my go-to source for all overdoses.  I appreciate the concentrated information (i.e. Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Symptoms, Toxic levels, Treatments, Antidote, & Disposition).  Cost:  Free

13. MediBabble - Truly amazing app that helps you communicate with others. It comes in handy when getting direct yes/no questions.  The languages includes: Spanish, Cantonse, Mandarin, Haitian Creole, and Russian!  Cost:  Free

14. Antibiotic Advisor 2011  -  Another reference option for antibiotic choices.  It's similar to EMRA's guide.  Sometimes the search function can be buggy, but you can't beat the price.  Cost: $3.99

15. Ruler -  We measure a lot of things in the ED. Anything from lacerations to size of rashes.  If you don't want to carry around a real ruler, download the free ruler app.  Just search for "ruler" in the App Store or check out the link.  Cost:  Free

*FYI, I have no financial interest in any of these apps or companies.