emergency room

 I humbly concede that I do not have it all figured out by any means, but I do appreciate an article that will look at research articles from both sides while holding to the premise that this is not a black and white issue.


There was big news last week in the heated debate about whether childhood vaccines cause autism. The 1998 study in The Lancet, which largely launched the vaccine-autism imbroglio, has been officially retracted. Its lead author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, has also been discredited by Britain’s independent regulator of doctors for his “unethical” and “dishonest” actions in conducting the pulled study.

But Wakefield’s deeply flawed paper is not the only study that has fueled the anti-vaccination movement. Led by celebrities such as Jenny McCarthy, the movement continues to vehemently oppose mainstream science’s overwhelming consensus that vaccines do not cause developmental disorders.

Some of these papers championed by the anti-vaccination camp have serious problems of their own. Others muddy the waters or hint at conspiratorial efforts by governmental health organizations and vaccine-profiteering pharmaceutical companies to hide the truth about autism’s genesis.

Here’s a look at several of the key studies that the anti-vaccination movement has either embraced or lambasted in furthering its perspective. These studies have already fueled the controversy and will likely remain at the epicenter of future clashes over vaccine safety

Continue reading full article 



You ever accidentally tell the wrong family their loved one just died?  So last night in the ER, we had two patients come in about the same time, both of the same gender and nationality, but maybe 30 years apart in age.

Patient A, roughly a 70 year old female, was here for cardio-pulmonary arrest (heart and lungs stopped working for some reason).  Patient B, a 40 year old female, was here for low back pain, although she did have some sort of cancer.

Patient A ended up dying despite our best efforts to save her.  The ER doctor went out to the waiting room to break the bad news to the family.  Through a comedy of errors, patient B’s family was accidentally rounded up and prepared for the doctors announcement.  The doctor then double checked by asking “are you Mrs Patient A’s family?”.  They (incorrectly) replied “yes, we are”.  Well, imagine their surprise when they found out their family member died from a severe backache!

After much screaming, crying, gnashing of teeth, and tearing of clothes (literally), it was realized that their family member wasn’t dead, in fact, she was very much alive, although her back was still a little sore.  The doctor  had to then go find the correct family and tell them the bad news (this time he was much more polished from the previous delivery).

Not quite the ol’ amputating of the wrong leg during surgery, but pretty close!

Funny video an ER nurse put together to help recruit new nurses.


WASHINGTON (AP) — New research further debunks any link between measles vaccine and autism, work that comes as the nation is experiencing a surge in measles cases fueled by children left unvaccinated.

Years of research with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, better known as MMR, have concluded that it doesn’t cause autism. Still, some parents’ fears persist, in part because of one 1998 British study that linked the vaccine with a subgroup of autistic children who also have serious gastrointestinal problems. That study reported that measles virus was lingering in the children’s bowels.

Only now have researchers rigorously retested that finding, taking samples of youngsters’ intestines to hunt for signs of virus with the most modern genetic technology. There is no evidence that MMR plays any role, the international team — which included researchers who first raised the issue — reported Wednesday.

“Although in fact there was evidence that this vaccine was safe in the bulk of the population, it had not been previously assessed with respect to kids with autism and GI complaints,” said Dr. W. Ian Lipkin of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, who led the work published in PLoS One, the online journal of the Public Library of Science.

“We are confident there is no link between MMR and autism,” Lipkin said.

Added co-author Dr. Larry Pickering of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “I feel very certain that it is a safe vaccine.”

Measles, a highly infectious virus best known for its red skin rash, once routinely sickened thousands of children a year and killed hundreds, until childhood vaccinations made it a rarity in this country. But so far this year, the U.S. has counted 131 measles cases, the most in a decade. Most patients were unvaccinated. Some were infants too young for their first MMR shot, but nearly half involved children whose parents rejected vaccination, the CDC reported last month.

No one knows just how many autism patients also suffer gastrointestinal disorders, pain that they may not be able to communicate. But Lipkin said that by some estimates, up to a quarter may be affected.

The MMR fear was that the vaccine’s weakened measles virus somehow lodged in and inflamed intestines, allowing waste products to escape and reach the central nervous system, Lipkin said. So his team had two questions: Does measles virus really persist in children with both disorders and not other youngsters? And did vaccination precede the GI complaints which in turn preceded autism?

Researchers studied 25 children with both autism and GI disorders, and another 13 children with the same GI disorders but no neurologic problems. The youngsters — the average age was 5 — all were undergoing colonoscopies for their GI conditions anyway, allowing tissue samples to be tested for genetic traces of measles virus. All had been vaccinated at younger ages.

The tests uncovered traces of measles genetic material in the bowels of one boy with autism — and one boy without autism. That doesn’t prove virus never temporarily lodged in more children, but it contradicts the earlier study that raised concern.

Nor was there a relationship with vaccine timing: Just five of the 25 autistic children had MMR precede GI complaints that in turn preceded autism symptoms.

Researchers consulted some prominent vaccine critics in designing the study. California advocate Rick Rollens praised the work but said it didn’t eliminate other vaccine concerns that deserve similar study. Meanwhile, he said it should draw much-needed attention to the suffering of patients like his son, who has both autism and GI disorders.

“No longer can mainstream medicine ignore the parents’ claims of significant GI distress,” he said.

Recently I posted a response to a comment on the vaccine issue (recent scientific studies show no statistical link between immunizations and autism).  I hypothesised that there were many other factors that needed to be considered for the possible causes of the rising autism rates.  One I failed to mention was television.  Cable TV, VCRs, and specialized children’s programming became very popular about 1980, just the time autism rates began to increase.  A new study by Cornell University reports what appears to be a link between children younger than 3 years old watching TV and autism.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics has long recommended that no child under 2 years old watch TV, this is the first study to link TV watching with a serious complication.  Growing Families International has also warned parents that TV can over-stimulate infants and toddlers who have trouble just focusing on their own hand, a single toy, or a sibling moving around the room, much less the crazy jumble of colors and rapidly changing images of most TV shows.

The findings seem to point to the 2 dimensional objects on TV causing the brain to have abnormal activity in the visual-processing centers (consistent with findings in most autistic children).  While it may be an easy babysitter, Teletubbies and Baby Einstein might not be helping your child that much after all.

Most people say things like “I’m here because my throat hurts” or “I’m having chest pain” or “I’ve been shot”, but a recent patient in our ER, when asked what the reason for his visit was stated in an “isn’t it obvious” tone – “Man, I’m tore up from the floor up!”  (translation=everything hurts)

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re about to talk with someone who is slightly different than you and that difference tries to take over every corner of your single-track brain?  For example, you’re about to meet a guy with only one arm, all you can think about is that missing arm.. “don’t ask about the arm… don’t bring it up, don’t say anything about his missing appendage”.  Then he says to you “Hi, I’m Mark” and you say “So, you’re missing an arm there, huh?”.  Good times had by all.

Now that you know how my mind works, here’s the rest of the story.  We had a cute couple come in the other night to the ER, I believe the correct term for them is “little-people”.  They were very nice and ended up being just fine after we helped them out a bit.  My job was to walk in the room and take a quick temperature under the gals tongue, but all I could think of was all the things I shouldn’t say.  “Aaron, don’t say anything about them being shorter than you, midgets, gnomes, the 7 Dwarfs, or any references to anything ‘small'”.  Immediatly upon entering the room I announced my intentions with, “Hello, I just need to get a little temperature from you”…dang it, my cursed mind couldn’t stop thinking about our differences in altitudes…I had to find someway to stop talking…maybe I could just leave the room, or fake a seizure, or even just wet my own pants and graciously excuse myself…no, I was going to tough this one out!…I began taking her temperature under her tongue, which was taking forever, so I said “if you press your tongue down on that sensor just a wee-bit, it will take a little quicker”.   Oh curses, that did not go well…so I faked a seizure.

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