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In Elemental. More on Medium.

A doctor warns about the impact of overprescribing

Photo: Towfiqu barbhuiya / Unsplash

Seven percent of individuals in the United States are prescribed levothyroxine, a synthetic version of the hormone, thyroxine, which is the main chemical produced by the body’s thyroid gland. The supplemental hormone consistently ranks among the top three prescriptions in the U.S. each year. In the past few days working at the hospital, I noted that one-sixth of the patients I saw were taking levothyroxine. This finding wasn’t terribly surprising to me and seemed like a fairly average sampling based on prior experience.

What has been surprising to me, however, is the mounting evidence indicating that most levothyroxine prescriptions, as…

It’s been a long time since I saw a Covid patient in the ER, and I couldn’t be happier

Photo: Camilo Jimenez/Unsplash

I’m an emergency room doctor in New York City, and I haven’t seen a Covid-19 patient in weeks. It feels great having my old job back.

In March 2020, Covid flooded our ERs. At first, it was just a dribble — one or two Covid patients per day. But within a week, the virus had taken over every body in every bed. Every shift in the emergency room brought an endless stream of patients, one after another, all struggling to breathe and in desperate need of oxygen.

The swiftness of Covid’s arrival in our emergency rooms took us by surprise…

My first experience with overseas treatment was A+

Photo: Michael Browning/Unsplash

I love my dentist. He’s a family friend, and a visit to his office on Staten Island, where I am from, is an easy and pleasant experience. I’m not one of those people who hates the drilling and the poking and the scraping. It’s not my favorite activity in the world, but a dental cleaning is just one of those things you’ve got to do, like paying your taxes or replacing the odd broken pipe — not always fun, but always necessary. Or else. In matters of the mouth, dare you not and you’ll risk an unpleasant smile, halitosis, and…

Hospitals across the country are seeing fewer sick kids; a pediatrician explores why

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

It’s a Friday in April, and after a week on service, I’m down to one pediatric patient in the hospital. Not that I’m wishing for sick children, but as a pediatric and adult hospitalist physician, this isn’t what I’m used to. This isn’t what the entire country and much of the world are used to either.

Where Have All the Sick Children Gone? That was the title of a recent article by Scott D. Krugman, MD, an editorial board member for the renowned medical journal, Pediatrics. Dr. Krugman isn’t the only medical provider asking this question.

In mid-March of 2020…

An invisible virus exposes critical blind spots in science and society. But will we learn?

Photo: MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram/Getty Images

Plaguing the world for more than a year, the coronavirus has forced reckonings in everything from scientific understanding to heart-wrenching inequities in health care and the economy. Given the human tendency to ignore history, here, for the record, are seven vital lessons we can take from the Covid-19 pandemic, which could start benefiting us now and for generations to come.

1. Virus science just underwent a paradigm shift

Sanitizing groceries and drowning our homes with bleach was wrongheaded, in hindsight. That early advice reflected an outdated view of how the coronavirus, influenza, and other respiratory viruses spread, some of it based on experiments done in the 1930s.


Yale’s Dr. Grossman challenged dogma to change the outcome for infants

Photo: The Washington Post/Getty Images

This story starts with a puzzle. Can you think outside the box? If so, try solving the following challenge. Imagine this nine-dot puzzle is printed on a sheet of paper. Now, with a pen, connect all the dots, drawing just four straight lines without taking your pen off the paper.

Yazzie, 31, is one of eight women helping run the health clinic in Navajo Mountain, a chapter of the Navajo Nation that straddles the border of Arizona and Utah. Photography by Sharon Chischilly for Elemental

Roxanna Yazzie works long hours to keep her community safe from Covid-19

Even in winter, when temperatures drop to below freezing and the dirt roads are coated in snow or ice, Roxanna Yazzie slings her clinic badge over her down jacket, pulls up the hood of her green jacket, and makes for work.

Weight stigma in health care can impact the care people get for Covid-19

Illustration by Anson Chan for Elemental

On October 24, Amanda Martinez Beck of Longview, Texas, told her husband: “You need to take me to the ER.” Their whole family had tested positive for Covid-19 a week earlier — Beck’s husband, Zachary, is an English professor and their best guess is that he brought the virus home from campus, or that Beck picked it up at the community pool where she sometimes swims. Within a few days, Zachary and their four children were all on the mend. But despite prescription albuterol, steroids, and antibiotics, Beck was still coughing and sleeping in a recliner at night because staying…

‘What would have happened if my parents did not have an oncologist-in-training as their daughter? What happens to the Black patients?’

Photo: Stígur Már Karlsson,Heimsmyndir/Getty Images

Part one: It’s everywhere

My first prostate cancer patient was my father. He is the man who taught me to be frugal. He is parsimonious until he gets to talking, and then all you want to do is listen. His laugh is boisterous and genuine. It is pure magic when it rises from someone who otherwise seems so stern. He worked two jobs when I was very little, one as a United States Postal Service mail carrier and the other delivering papers for a now-defunct newspaper in Denver. His father left his mother and eight siblings when he was young when they lived in…

The pandemic has made things more dire — but there are reasons to feel hopeful

Photo: d76 masahiro ikeda/Getty Images

This story includes descriptions of people experiencing suicidal ideation, which may be disturbing to some readers. If you or someone you know need help, consider calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800–273–8255 or the Trevor Project Hotline (for LGBT youth) at 866–488–7386.

If Brooklyn Scherer hadn’t been able to transition into her true gender identity, she says she wouldn’t be here today.

Raised as a boy by conservative parents in the suburbs of Seattle, Scherer, now 37, buried her true identity for decades. She’s also autistic, she tells Elemental, which led to further social isolation. …


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