Recent Medicine Commentaries

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Cups and Balls
When Hieronymus Bosch painted The Conjurer, in the 1500s, I’m sure he never imagined that the cups and balls routine he rendered would morph into a variety of schemes, scandals and shell games. Here’s just a few that make this month’s list. The Eric Massa mess – Among the newly uncovered allegations: “Beginning in March 2009,” the New York Times reports, “male staffers...
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April 14, 2010
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What Would Hippocrates Do?
Doctors are familiar with the Hippocratic Oath – a pledge taken by incoming physicians that they will practice medicine in an honorable way. However, one partisan urologist in Mount Dora, (a little town not far from Orlando, Florida), has allowed politics to intrude into his practice. Dr. Jack Cassell posted a sign on the front of his office that states: “If you...
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April 7, 2010
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More than Ordinary
Miracles come in many forms. Sitting in a rice paddy in Vietnam in 1968, infantryman Dennis Haines heard the cries of a baby or small child, “Just as I looked towards this hooch,” Haines recalls, “I saw what appeared to be a door swing open and a flash.  The next thing I remember was my buddy John cradling me, telling...
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December 23, 2009
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Keeping Me Honest
After posting this commentary, I learned that Susan Atkins had died late last night. On September 4, I offered an ethical scenario. How Would You Decide? asked readers on both my own Web site and Huffington Post to put themselves in the place of parole commissioners for the state of California and decide whether to release Manson follower and convicted murderer Susan Atkins...
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September 25, 2009
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How Would You Decide? – Part II
Last Friday, I offered an ethical dilemma. I asked readers to imagine sitting on the California parole board to decide whether to grant convicted murderer Susan Atkins “compassionate release” based on her terminally ill condition. I asked readers to offer their thoughts before submitting my own conclusions.  One comment that repeatedly came up in conversations with friends, “How can you show...
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September 7, 2009
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How Would You Decide? – Part I
You sit on the California state parole board looking into a request to release Susan Atkins, the terminally ill prisoner convicted of participating in the killing of actress Sharon Tate and four others in 1969. At the parole hearing, you listen to family members of the victims. Debra Tate, sister of the actress: “I will pray for her soul when...
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September 4, 2009
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Why Be Ethical?
A weekend conversation with a friend prompted the following: “Why be ethical?  What’s the payoff?” The standard fall-back:  “Virtue is its own reward.” Another might be the adage by Louis Armstrong when asked the definition of Jazz: “If you have to ask… you’ll never know.” The reality is that most of us face issues that challenge our ethical integrity on a regular basis.   » Read...
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April 22, 2009
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A Bonnie Smoker
Edith Frederickson loves to smoke. In fact, the 72-year-old Belmont, California resident has been smoking for some 50 years in bars, restaurants, airplanes, trains, indoors and out. However, two weeks ago the good citizens of Belmont enacted perhaps the toughest antismoking law in the country by banning smoking in all apartment buildings. The result:  Edith will no longer be able...
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February 11, 2009
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Empirical vs. A Miracle
Philosophy’s Age of Reason began in the 1600’s marked by such notables as Thomas Hobbes, René Descartes, Baruch Spinoza, John Locke, even the astronomer Galileo. However, four-hundred additional years of empirical and physical knowledge seem to have no affect on individuals who cling to the religious notion that God alone has the power to heal the sick. According to a report in...
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January 23, 2009
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Nurses Do It Better
The Gallup organization’s annual Honesty and Ethics poll gave nurses the highest ranking out of twenty-one professions for the seventh straight year! “Eighty-four percent of Americans,” Gallup reported, “call their honesty and ethical standards either ‘high’ or ‘very high.’…” This speaks directly to the issue of trust.  Clearly patients, doctors, administrators and others believe that nurses have the highest level...
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November 27, 2008