Categories
Clinical Community Service Emotion Empathy General Healthcare Disparities Opinion Public Health

Let Me Be Brief: Community Leadership

A series of briefs by Texas Medical Students

By: Fareen Momin, Sereena Jivraj, and Melissa Huddleston

In the ever-evolving field of medicine, it is no surprise that the idea of leadership in medicine has changed over the years. Some physicians have engaged in additional leadership in the context of politics. In fact, several physicians signed the Declaration of Independence.1 Today, physician community leadership extends much further. Physicians can engage with their communities and beyond via virtual platforms. Physician “influencers” use social media to provide quick answers to patients, and physician-patient interactions on Twitter alone have increased 93% since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.2 With physician voices reaching ever-larger audiences, we must consider the benefits and ramifications of expanding our roles as community leaders.

Medicine and politics, once considered incompatible, are now connected.3 There is a long list of physician-politicians, and community members often encourage physicians to run for political office, as in the case of surgeon and former representative Tom Price.4 Physicians are distinctly equipped to provide insight and serve as advocates for their communities.5 Seeking to leverage this position, a political action committee (PAC), Doctors in Politics, has an ambitious desire to send 50 physicians to Congress in 2022, so they can advocate for security of coverage and freedom for patients to choose their doctor.6-7 There are dangers, however, when physicians take on this additional leadership role. For example, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), an ophthalmologist, has spread medical misinformation, telling those who have had COVID-19 to “throw away their masks, go to restaurants, and live again because these people are now immune.”8

It is not practical for even those medical students who meet age requirements to run for office. What we can do is use our collective voice to hold our leaders accountable, especially when they represent our profession. We can create petitions to censure physicians who have caused harm and can serve as whistleblowers when we find evidence of wrong-doing perpetrated by healthcare professionals. We can also start engaging in patient advocacy and policy-shaping with the American Medical Association (AMA) Medical Student Section and professional organizations related to our specialty interest(s).

To avoid adding to confusion, statements by physicians should always be grounded in evidence. Dr. Fauci’s leadership is exemplary in this regard. He has worked alongside seven presidents, led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984, and has become a well-known figure due to his role in guiding the nation with evidence-based research concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.9 Similarly, Dr. John Whyte, CMO for WebMD, has collaborated with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to advocate for safe use of medication and to educate those with vaccine apprehension.10 Following these examples, we should strive to collaborate with public health leaders and other healthcare practitioners and to advance health, wellness, and social outcomes and, in this way, have a lasting impact as leaders in the community.


  1. Goldstein Strong Medicine: Doctors Who Signed the Declaration of Independence. Cunningham Group. Published July 7, 2008. Accessed February 2, 2021. https://www.cunninghamgroupins.com/strong-medicine-doctors-who-signed-the-declaration-of-independence/
  2. Patient Engagement with Physicians on Twitter Doubles During BusinessWire. Published December 17, 2020. Accessed February 2, 2021. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201217005306/en/Patient-Engagement-with-Physicians-on-Twitter- Doubles-During-Pandemic
  3. WHALEN THE DOCTOR AS A POLITICIAN. JAMA. 1899;XXXII(14):756–759. doi:10.1001/jama.1899.92450410016002d
  4. Stanley From Physician to Legislator: The Long History of Doctors in Politics. The Rotation. Published May 15, Accessed February 2, 2021. https://the-rotation.com/from-physician-to-legislator-the-long-history-of-doctors-in-politics/
  5. Carsen S, Xia The physician as leader. Mcgill J Med. 2006;9(1):1-2.
  6. Doctors in Politics Launches Ambitious Effort to Send 50 Physicians to Congress In 2022. BusinessWire. Published May 27, 2020. Accessed February 2, 2021. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200527005230/en/Doctors-in-Politics-Launches-Ambitious-Effort-to- Send-50-Physicians-to-Congress-In-2022
  7. Doctors in Accessed February 2, 2021. https://doctorsinpolitics.org/whoweare
  8. Gstalter Rand Paul says COVID-19 survivors should “throw away their masks, go to restaurants, live again.” TheHill. Published November 13, 2020. Accessed February 2, 2021. https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/525819-rand-paul-says-covid-19-survivors-should-throw-away-their-masks-go-to
  9. Anthony Fauci, M.D. | NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Published January 20, 2021. Accessed February 2, 2021. https://www.niaid.nih.gov/about/anthony-s-fauci-md-bio
  10. Parks Physicians in government: The FDA and public health. American Medical Association. Published June 29, 2016. Accessed February 2, 2021. https://www.ama-assn.org/residents-students/transition-practice/physicians-government-fda-and-public-health
Categories
Clinical General Healthcare Cost Healthcare Costs Healthcare Disparities Innovation Patient-Centered Care Primary Care Quality Improvement

Let Me Be Brief: Medicaid Expansion

A series of briefs by the Texas Medical Students

By: Ammie Rupani and Alwyn Mathew

In 2019, 18% of Texans had no form of health insurance.1 650,000 Texans have lost their health insurance due to unemployment during the pandemic. The rate of uninsured Texans is staggering and has only been worsened by the pandemic. During this critical time, we must talk about Medicaid Expansion and the potential solutions for millions of people with no health insurance. As a medical student, I have seen patients defer life-saving medications such as insulin in order to afford rent or groceries. Consequently, these choices have brought such people to the Emergency Room in diabetic ketoacidosis, which could have been easily avoided with regular insulin treatments. Stories like this are far too common in Texas, and it is important to recognize such outcomes are easily preventable with improved access to health insurance coverage. How can we as students learn to treat people, when the system we are bound to  practice in is perpetuating their very diseases?

Retrieved from Texas Comptroller

Medicaid is a health insurance program managed through the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Medicaid is currently jointly funded by the Federal and State governments with the Federal government matching each dollar the State spends. Texas Medicaid is primarily a fee-for-service model that has poor reimbursement rates and high administrative burden that discourages physicians from accepting Medicaid in their practice. Currently, Texas Medicaid coverage is only offered to children, pregnant women, seniors, and people with severe disabilities, who also fall below a certain income threshold. For example, a single mother making minimum wage at her  full-time job is not eligible for Medicaid because she earns too much. However, she does not qualify for Federal subsidies covering some of the insurance cost because she does not earn enough. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 would help address this woman’s dilemma since Medicaid Expansion would cover all individuals with incomes up to 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, amounting to $16,643 for individuals and $33,948 for a family of four. Medicaid Expansion would provide a health insurance option to an estimated 2.2 million uninsured low-wage Texas adults.2

Although the original arguments against Medicaid Expansion in Texas focused on States’ rights and limiting Federal dependence on funding, the primary opposition to this program was the Federal mandate. In 2012, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Federal government could not mandate the Expansion of Medicaid in any State, leading to Texas and several States opting out of the program. Realizing the benefits and improvement in health outcomes, several States have since adopted the Expansion program offered through CMS, including Arkansas (2014) and Louisiana (2016). Currently, Texas spends nearly $40 billion (State and Federal funds) for the Medicaid program, with a 60-40% distribution between the Federal and State Government respectively.3 Expansion would be fiscally sound for Texas as it will reduce the strain on our State budget and draw in more Federal resources. Looking past the dollar amount, it is crucial that medical students and other healthcare professionals recognize the benefits of improved access and early medical intervention that can be achieved through Medicaid Expansion.3


TMA’s Legislative Recommendations4
  • Develop a meaningful, statewide health care coverage initiative using federal dollars to:
    • Extend meaningful coverage to low-income uninsured working-age adults, and
    • Establish a state-administered reinsurance program to reduce premiums for people enrolled in marketplace
  • Provide 12-months’ comprehensive coverage for women who lose Medicaid 60 days
  • Establish 12-months’ continuous coverage for children enrolled in Medicaid, the same benefit given to children enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

  1. Accounts TCof P. Uninsured Texans. Retrieved from- https://comptroller.texas.gov/economy/fiscal-notes/2020/oct/uninsured.php
  2. How Many Uninsured Adults Could Be Reached If All States Expanded Medicaid? – Tables. KFF. https://kff.org/report-section/how-many-uninsured-adults-could-be-reached-if-all-states-expanded-medic aid-tables/. Published June 25, 2020.
  3. Federal and State share of Medicaid Spending, 2019, Kaiser Family Foundation- retrieved from – https://kff.org/medicaid/state-indicator/federalstate-share-of-spending/?dataView=1&currentTimeframe=0 &sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22State%22,%22sort%22:%22desc%22%7D
  4. Provide Meaningful Health Care Coverage for Uninsured Texans. Texmed. https://texmed.org/Template.aspx?id=55300.
  5. Status of state medicaid expansion decisions: Interactive Map, 2021. Retrieved from- https://kff.org/medicaid/issue-brief/status-of-state-medicaid-expansion-decisions-interactive-map/
Categories
Clinical Emotion Empathy General Humanistic Psychology Opinion

Let Me Be Brief: A Proposal to Refrain From Eating Our Young

A series of briefs by the Texas Medical Students

By: Elleana Majdinasab and Rishi Gonuguntla

Medicine has its unspoken mores, does it not? Certain specialties are notorious for their personalities, and the idea of foregoing food and sleep are deemed signs of strength and resilience. Upperclassmen advise against getting in Dr. X’s way, lest you become subject to a tailored diatribe, and you hear whispers of Dr. Y’s career-crushing evaluations. Your roommates do not bat an eye over your tears every  evening, because chances are they are no stranger to such days themselves. It doesn’t require a detective to identify that the above are the direct result of mistreatment in medical school.

Per the AAMC, mistreatment occurs when there is a show of disrespect for another person that unreasonably affects the learning process. Public humiliation and belittlement by doctors are the most common forms of mistreatment in medical school.1 The practice of aggressive “pimping,” or the act of doctors disparaging students for not knowing information, potentially in front of patients or fellow classmates, is a phenomenon too many medical students needlessly experience.2 Other examples of mistreatment include the shaming of students for asking questions and being subjected to offensive names and remarks.1 According to one 2014 study, over three-fourths of third year medical students reported being mistreated by residents, with over 10% of those responses citing recurrent mistreatment.2

Given the omnipresence of these events, one may consider whether there exists a common denominator among guilty attending physicians. Indeed, mistreatment of medical students can  occur secondary to a multitude of reasons. Physician burnout is still rampant as ever, and ironically, often occurs partly due to the same toxic culture attendings themselves experienced as budding residents.3 The doctors in question blissfully perpetuate the cycle, humiliating and pimping, justifying  their behavior with the mentality of, “I went through it back then and turned out just fine.” Thus, the vicious cycle continues. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

As medical students, we are quietly told by the older and wiser to improve our resilience – to grow tougher skin. We are advised to expect, or even welcome, microaggressions and impatience from our superiors while we work toward our lifelong dreams.4 We take deep breaths and smile through the jabs because we are fully aware of the consequences of speaking out against the deeply ingrained practice of mistreatment.4 Mistreatment in medical school matters because doctors eating their young further propagates the toxic reputation of the career’s culture while contributing to the development of many future doctors’ unhappiness.3 It is the accumulation of years of pressure, competition, and negative experiences that leads to feelings of burnout in students and physicians alike.5 Even worse, medical students act on these feelings, and they are three times more likely to commit suicide than their similar-aged peers in other educational settings in the general population.6 The hazing of medical students is in no way constructive or beneficial to anybody involved. Stress and toxicity in the learning environment prevents students from being themselves and asking questions, thus damaging their confidence during the formative years of their training.7

Even more alarming is that mistreatment is more commonly directed towards minority students, including female, underrepresented in medicine, Asian, multiracial, and LGBTQ+ students, than it is toward their white, cis-gendered, heterosexual, male counterparts.8 In the same vein that we encourage and recruit people   from minority communities to join medicine, we must be aware of the potential mistreatment they will experience and take clear, targeted steps to protect them. If we, as a community, fail at this task, then we are complicit in perpetuating the systemic inequities and inequalities that are currently prevalent in medicine.

The reality is that the culture of medicine doesn’t have to be this way. It is certain that mistreatment has been inadvertently ingrained within the culture of medical training, so attempting to address this problem feels daunting. There is a current lack of literature regarding what interventions successfully reduce mistreatment, but introspective analysis yields some steps we may take in an attempt to slowly chip away at the current social infrastructure.9

First and foremost, students must realize and acknowledge the negativity they have been subjected to is not ‘all in their head,’ but instead a universal and rather unfounded experience. The next step is to seek support from classmates, friendly administration, and trusted professors and physicians who can provide guidance and vouch for students’ justice. Addressing mistreatment is at its core a collaborative effort, as we cannot expect only the bravest, most outspoken students to carry this initiative to fruition. Each and every person in medicine can enjoy a role and responsibility in this endeavor. School administrations can create interventions aimed at educating faculty and students about recognizing mistreatment and the harmful effects that public humiliation can have on student learning.10 It is only when students recognize abuse and have a strong support system that they may finally gain the confidence required to be vocal against toxic behavior and speak out for both themselves and classmates. Schools can further assist efforts by ensuring students are aware of their rights in this context, and offering guaranteed protection if mistreatment does rear its head.11 Current physicians may also positively contribute by gently and constructively pointing out questionable behavior among their colleagues to create a more effective learning environment. Finally, our generation of medical students is tenacious, progressive, and outspoken. We can weaken, and even break the cycle, by remembering our roots, exercising our rights, and manifesting the golden rule: to always treat others the way you want to be treated.

  1. 2020 GQ All Schools pdf. (n.d.).
  2. Cook, F., Arora, V. M., Rasinski, K. A., Curlin, F. A., & Yoon, J. D. (2014). The Prevalence of Medical Student Mistreatment and Its Association with Burnout. Academic Medicine : Journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges, 89(5), 749–754. https://doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0000000000000204
  3. Major, (2014). To Bully and Be Bullied: Harassment and Mistreatment in Medical Education. AMA Journal of Ethics, 16(3), 155–160. https://doi.org/10.1001/virtualmentor.2014.16.3.fred1-1403
  4. Assessment of the Prevalence of Medical Student Mistreatment by Sex, Race/Ethnicity, and Sexual Orientation | Medical Education and Training | JAMA Internal Medicine | JAMA Network. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2021, from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2761274?guestAccessKe y=5b371de5-4978-4643-b125-f26972348616&utm_source=For_The_Media&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=ftm_links&utm_content=tfl&utm_term=022420
  5. Dyrbye, N., Thomas, M. R., Massie, F. S., Power, D. V., Eacker, A., Harper, W., Durning, S., Moutier, C., Szydlo, D. W., Novotny, P. J., Sloan, J. A., & Shanafelt, T. D. (2008). Burnout and suicidal ideation among U.S. medical students. Annals of Internal Medicine, 149(5), 334–341. https://doi.org/10.7326/0003-4819-149-5-200809020-00008
  6. Markman, D., Soeprono, T. M., Combs, H. L., & Cosgrove, E. M. (2019). Medical student mistreatment: Understanding ‘public humiliation.’ Medical Education Online, 24(1), 1615367. https://doi.org/10.1080/10872981.2019.1615367
  7. Full article: Exploring medical students’ barriers to reporting mistreatment during clerkships: A qualitative study. (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2021, from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10872981.2018.1478170
  8. Hasty, N., Br, M. E., ford, Lau, M. J. N., MD, & MHPE. (n.d.). It’s Time to Address Student Mistreatment. American College of Surgeons. Retrieved March 16, 2021, from https://www.facs.org/Education/Division-of-Education/Publications/RISE/articles/student- mistreatment
  9. Markman, D., Soeprono, T. M., Combs, H. L., & Cosgrove, E. M. (2019). Medical student mistreatment: Understanding ‘public humiliation.’ Medical Education Online, 24(1), 1615367. https://doi.org/10.1080/10872981.2019.1615367
  10. Stone, J. P., Charette, J. H., McPhalen, D. F., & Temple-Oberle, C. (2015). Under the Knife: Medical Student Perceptions of Intimidation and Journal of Surgical Education, 72(4), 749–753. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsurg.2015.02.003
  11. Mazer, M., Bereknyei Merrell, S., Hasty, B. N., Stave, C., & Lau, J. N. (2018). Assessment of Programs Aimed to Decrease or Prevent Mistreatment of Medical Trainees. JAMA Network Open, 1(3), e180870–e180870. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.0870

 

Categories
Clinical General Law Public Health

Let Me Be Brief: Politics in Medicine

A series of briefs by the Texas Medical Students

By: Shubhang Bhalla, Chelsea Nguyen, and Alejandro Joglar

There are only two possible scenarios: either the Mayans were inept seers, or they ran out of stone. In any case, the predicted end of the world missed its appointment by exactly eight years. With nearly three million deaths globally, COVID-19 has quickly assumed its standing as one of the leading communicable causes of mortality.1 Despite the novel therapeutics to combat the pandemic, recent scientific models and  health information now report that masks could have prevented nearly 12% of mortality associated with SARS-CoV-2.2 Surprisingly, this simple piece of personal protective equipment has become politicized, with some opponents claiming that masks are an infringement on human liberty. In the current sociopolitical climate, we are amid two pandemics: one of SARS-CoV-2 and another of misinformation—both equally harmful. Much like the historical precedent set in 1918 with the formation of     the Anti-Mask League, public health leaders of the twenty-first century must face the challenge of juggling objective science, pandering politics, and devastation left in the wake of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Public health has been consistently linked to leading political efforts of the time. From the development of environmental regulations, seatbelt laws, and smoking zones, to the contentious debate over mandatory vaccinations, efforts to improve public health sometimes impinge on various political ideologies and interests.3 Often, these debates can be broken down to the fundamental balance of individual autonomy and communal benefits. This intricate relationship between public health and politics has become increasingly strained during the current pandemic. Many critics of the pandemic response argue that by “flattening the curve,” individual autonomy has been infringed upon. Undoubtedly, the pandemic has catalyzed the transformation of established social operations: business closures, online education, and disruptive daily living. However, among what some call “liberty-depriving” mandates, the mandatory mask  usage remains a significantly contentious proposal. Wearing a mask serves to fulfill two broader, complementary goals: individual responsibility and adherence to a common, public paradigm to eradicate the pandemic. Despite its complementary nature, the wearing of masks has become a catalyst for political conflict, becoming a form of divisive political symbolism for the American public.

Today, only twenty-five states currently mandate face masks in public;4 however, as restrictions begin to  lift due to mounting public pressure, it is critical to understand that the origins of the mask resistance is the consequence of inconsistent scientific recommendations, actions of political figures, and America’s long-standing principle of liberty. The argument of wearing masks is simple: viruses are transmitted via droplets, and properly constructed masks can prevent the spread of infected droplets. According to the CDC, this is called “source control.”1 However, the delivery of this message has been muddled. In April, the World Health Organization (WHO) instructed the public not to use masks, while the CDC recommended the opposite. In June, the WHO adjusted its guidance to state that the public should wear nonmedical masks only in specific instances of high risk of infectivity. However, the CDC director touted universal mask wearing as “one of the most powerful weapons” to curb the rates of COVID-19.5 The net  result of conflicting recommendations was a divided population who sought concrete guidance from political figures.

Yet, political figures further allowed for festering sentiments against masks to transform into a symbolic ideology. Initially, the conflict arose with protest against government mandates, cited by some as “extensive governmental reach into individual action,” but as the debates shifted towards masks, a new conflict—one of the “culture war”—reigned.6 In this battle, masks were described as “muzzles . . . restricting His [God’s] respiration mechanism.”6 As these views gained popularity, politicians’ action indirectly supported these protests. Top officials, such as Donald Trump and Mike Pence, sought to erroneously show strength by limiting mask usage or outright denying the need for the equipment. In Montana on September 14, 2020, former Vice President Mike Pence stood in front of a large crowd to support the state’s Republicans. However, many individuals who attended the event, including Mike Pence, were not wearing a mask despite a mask order that was in effect for the surrounding county.7 Furthermore, at the national level, Congress denied passing the Masks for All Act of 2020, an initiative to provide high-quality masks for all individuals.8 Contradictions between the scientific community, state policy, and actions of key figures downplayed the severity of the virus, influenced public’s perception, and shifted support towards the anti-mask masses.

As of May 19th, approximately 125.5 million people in the United States have been fully vaccinated, either  by the two-dose series by Pfizer and Moderna or Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine.9 Per the CDC, it is predicted that 90% of the total US population will be vaccinated by July 12th.9 Despite this incredible progress, it is still important to continue following mask-wearing protocols as new research is being developed about effectiveness of the vaccine. For example, it is still unknown whether fully vaccinated individuals can transmit COVID-19 to unvaccinated individuals.10 Additionally, the rise of new variants of COVID-19 may influence the effectiveness of vaccines and the spread of COVID-19 among susceptible individuals. The uncertainty surrounding the vaccines and COVID-19 means it is essential to continue following public health mandates, including mask wearing if unvaccinated, social distancing, and following travel and local guidelines regardless of vaccination status. Dr. Anthony Fauci even mentioned during an interview with CNN that it is “possible” that Americans will be wearing masks in 2022.11

As medical students, we can play an important role by engaging with and educating our communities about the most effective methods of maintaining safety during the pandemic. It is important that we talk with our friends and family about why unvaccinated individuals should continue to wear a mask and follow certain precautions and remaining guidelines (ex: wearing masks on public transport) as well as recommending trusted resources for more information, such as the CDC. As new research develops and guidelines change, being a clear and comprehensive line of communication between science and the public is more important than ever before.

  1. Infection Control: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) | CDC. Centers Dis Control Prev. Published online 2020:1-4. Accessed May 9, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/infection-control-recommendations.html
  2. Matuschek C, Moll F, Fangerau H, et Face masks: Benefits and risks during the COVID-19 crisis. Eur J Med Res. 2020;25(1). doi:10.1186/s40001-020-00430-5
  3. Bekker MPM, Greer SL, Azzopardi-Muscat N, McKee M. Public health and politics: How political science can help us move forward. Eur J Public Health. 2018;28(suppl_3):1-2. doi:10.1093/eurpub/cky194
  4. Markowitz Does Your State Have a Mask Mandate Due to Coronavirus? AARP. Published 2021. Accessed May 9, 2021. https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2020/states-mask-mandates-coronavirus.ht ml
  5. CDC and WHO offer conflicting advice on masks. An expert tells us why. Accessed May 9, 2021. https://abcnews.go.com/Health/cdc-offer-conflicting-advice-masks-expert-tells-us/story?id= 70958380
  6. Dyson, (2020). Are they masks or muzzles? Two discussions highlight different opinions | Latest News | starexponent.com. Free Lance Star. https://starexponent.com/news/are-they-masks-or-muzzles
  7. The Mask Hypocrisy: How COVID Memos Contradict the White House’s Public Face | Kaiser Health Accessed May 9, 2021. https://khn.org/news/mask-wearing-hypocrisy-how-covid-white-house-memos-contradict-ad ministration-coronavirus-defense-policy/
  8. Masks for All Act of 2020 (2020; 116th Congress S. 4339) – GovTrack.us. Accessed May 9, https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/116/s4339
  9. Covid-19 Vaccinations: County and State Tracker – The New York Times. Accessed May 9, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/covid-19-vaccine-doses.html
  10. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC Issues First Set of Guidelines on How Fully Vaccinated People Can Visit Safely with Others. Accessed May 9, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/p0308-vaccinated-guidelines.html
  11. Fauci: “Possible” Americans will be wearing masks in 2022 to protect against Covid-19 – Accessed May 9, 2021.
Categories
Clinical General Public Health

Let Me Be Brief: Vaccine Hesitancy

A series of briefs by the Texas Medical Students

By: Grayson Jackson, Kate Holder, and Whitney Stuard

Vaccine hesitancy refers to when an individual refuses or delays receiving an available vaccine, primarily due to misinformation, lack of health literacy, or fear.1 This issue—especially in the setting of the COVID-19 crisis and growing misinformation about science and medicine nationwide—is of great importance for medical students as future physicians and scientific communicators. Widespread vaccine refusal may result in untold public health consequences, including outbreaks of vaccine-preventable infectious diseases and rising healthcare costs. Vaccine hesitancy is often observed by quantifying nonmedical vaccine exemptions from state-mandated immunizations. In Texas, these exemptions have tripled since the 2010–11 school year.2 Data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control show that during the 2018–19 school year (the most recent available), Texas reported 2.2% of kindergarteners with a nonmedical exemption, amounting to 390,000 exempted children second only to California.3

The ongoing health crisis caused by COVID-19 has placed tremendous hope on vaccine compliance as the most practical way to stifle the global pandemic. Scientific facts have become increasingly politicized, and vaccines represent one of the key topics in which such facts have become distorted and polarized. Some questions (i.e., whether vaccines cause autism) have persistently circulated among vaccine-hesitant groups for years, whereas the COVID-19 crisis has heightened the risk of disinformation as vaccines by Pfizer, Moderna, and others are rolled out nationwide. It is incumbent upon us as future physicians to engage in the responsible dissemination of correct information about vaccines’ safety and efficacy. However, one should also avoid rushing to condemnation or judgment of vaccine-hesitant patients and parents which may only intensify their opposition.4

The Texas Medical Association (TMA) has worked to actively combat vaccine hesitancy and problems with vaccine availability throughout the state. The TMA has been working to support vaccinations including influenza, HPV, MMR and others throughout its history. TMA’s current vaccine advocacy agenda is still working to advocate for flu shots during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The TMA Medical Student Section (MSS) has also continually supported vaccine availability to all Texas residents and promoted Be Wise Immunize chapters throughout the medical school within the state. In addition to TMA’s Be Wise Immunize program, TMA has published a variety of policies supporting vaccinations to increase overall vaccination rates. Policy such as 135.012 Immunization Rates in Texas, 260.072 Conscientious Objection to Immunizations, and 135.022 Adolescent Parent Immunizations all work to increase vaccination rates within the state, promote the Texas Vaccines for Children Program and the Adult Safety Net Program, as well as combat vaccine hesitancy. In addition, during the COVID-19 pandemic TMA has encouraged the #ThisIsOurShot campaign to combat vaccine hesitancy.

The TMA Medical Student Section supports widespread vaccine availability in a prompt and timely manner to all Texas residents. The MSS supports incorporation of the COVID-19 vaccine into the mandatory vaccine category once it is federally authorized beyond emergency use. This may become increasingly important as we see young people and college students, who deny the vaccine due to not fearing the less negative COVID-19 health outcomes, become the population disproportionately responsible for COVID-19 spread.

As a medical student, you have probably heard countless friends and family members discuss their hesitancy to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Many people have vehemently opposed the COVID-19 vaccination simply because they have fallen victim to false information. As medical students and advocates, we should commit to broadcasting truth and combating misinformation in our local communities. We have the wherewithal and the voice to endorse the COVID-19 vaccine.

1 MacDonald NE; SAGE Working Group on Vaccine Hesitancy. Vaccine hesitancy: Definition, scope and determinants. Vaccine. 2015;33(34):4161-4164. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2015.04.036

2 https://www.texmed.org/Template.aspx?id=55299#_ftnref1

3 https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/imz-managers/coverage/schoolvaxview/data-reports/exemptions-reports/2018-19.html

4 Please visit https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/public-health/3-ways-physicians-can-improve-vaccine-conversation.


Fast Facts

  • The COVID-19 vaccine cannot give you the coronavirus or make you test positive for the coronavirus.
  • Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, you should receive the vaccine to prevent reinfection.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine will not alter your DNA or impair your ability to have children.
  • The COVID-19 vaccine is demonstrably safe and effective and tested through rigorous clinical trials.
Categories
General Law

Not Science Fiction: American immigration politics threaten scientific advances

The year 2017 was an anti-science roller-coaster ride. From the plentiful deniers of climate change to the seven words rumored to be banished from the CDC’s vocabulary[1] to Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s questionable words equating fossil fuel consumption with the prevention of acts of sexual violence,[2] science seemed to be the biggest loser of 2017. Even the tax bill, the capstone of the year, appeared to be steeped in anti-science rhetoric, with several proposed provisions aimed at dismantling research. Among these were the taxation of tuition assistance for graduate researchers and increased taxation of companies examining renewable energy sources, both of which thankfully failed to make it into the final bill.[3]

Alongside all the powerful and disturbing hits to science, the country continues to see our administration make tactical maneuvers against immigration. As a humanitarian, I feel a deep sense of indignation that we have forgotten our history as a nation of immigrants and turned our backs on people who enrich our country both by strengthening our workforce and adding to our cultural melting pot. As a member of the medical community, however, I am worried that the disassembly of our immigration program will act as yet another catalyst to dismantle the country’s scientific endeavors.

From 1960 to 2014, 28 of the Nobel Prize winners in medicine have been scientists and physicians who immigrated to America. The numbers are similarly high in the fields of chemistry and physics, with 23 and 22 immigrants winning in these fields, respectively. Thankfully, nobody in our political administration has openly come out against cancer research, but considering that in 2014, 42% of the researchers in the top seven American cancer research centers are from 50-plus foreign countries, the administration placing severe restrictions on immigration deals a huge blow to science in our country and is in effect a stance against cancer research. Even the inventor of chemotherapy, George Clowes, immigrated to the United States from England to conduct research on chemotherapy and went on to found the American Association for Cancer Research.[4] In terms of the contemporary research landscape, American graduate institutions award approximately 30,000 doctoral degrees in the fields of science and engineering each year. Foreign-born researchers are responsible for 40 percent of these degrees. A high number of academic institutions coupled with more job opportunities in the fields of science and technology, as well as higher wages, are some of the factors attracting researchers from abroad to the US.[5]

So what would the American scientific landscape without immigrant scientists and medical researchers look like? In a word: prehistoric. The Nature Index ranks America as the number-one research-producing country, and had immigration restrictions prevented the aforementioned individuals from completing their research on American soil, perhaps we would still be learning about the four humors and spending our clinical years of medical school bleeding people with leeches. Most of us completing medical school will be entering into clinical practice that would not be possible without the contributions of researchers, many of whom are foreign-born. I hope that as a medical community, 2018 is an opportunity for us to recognize and celebrate the efforts of our colleagues who come from faraway lands to conduct valuable and potentially lifesaving research here in America before Jurassic immigration policies further threaten the well-being of our patients.

[1] http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/16/health/cdc-banned-words/index.html

[2] http://time.com/5007787/rick-perry-fossil-fuels-sexual-assault/

[3] http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/12/researchers-win-some-lose-some-final-us-tax-bill

[4] https://www.nafsa.org/_/File/_/ie_mayjun15_front_lines.pdf

[5] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/does-the-us-produce-too-m/

Photo Credit: Victoria Pickering

Categories
Clinical Patient-Centered Care Reflection

“Listen to understand” not “listen to reply”

A two-month stint at the oncology department in a Singapore government hospital has provided me with vivid examples of the importance of doctor-patient relationships and communication. Cancer, in many societies, is still widely regarded as medical taboo – a condition people closely associate with death. While I got to witness very sensitive and depressing conversations in relation to end-of-life care, the most impactful conversation I experienced had nothing to do with end-of-life care. Rather, it was a complaint from a patient about his team of allegedly negligent doctors.

It took place in a private ward room with just Mr. C and his wife. When I first entered the room, Mr. C gave me a hostile look and asked me who I was. Feeling awkward given the cold welcome, I persisted to introduce myself as a medical student who wanted to take his history. Although reluctant, he agreed to talk to me. What started as a cold introduction turned out to be an hour-long avenue for Mr. C to vent his anger and frustrations. It became etched in my mind for the important lesson that came with it.

I understood from Mr. C that it was not the diagnosis that brought about his unhappiness, but how the diagnosis came about.  Mr. C presented with a 6-month history of progressive dull epigastric pain and loss of weight with no co-morbidities. He had no associated fevers, nausea or vomiting. The conversation went well until I asked him the question, “Did you bring this to your doctor’s attention?”

Immediately, there was a change in his facial expression. I divined from his grim expression that the news was not good. He started shaking his head, somewhat in disappointment. His wife started tearing. I had inadvertently asked a sensitive question and was caught helplessly in that moment of grief and sorrow.

Mr. C then explained that he actually went to the Emergency Department (ED) thrice as his abdominal pain worsened. Unfortunately, on the first two occasions, they sent him home after establishing that his vitals were stable with no abnormalities in his test results. He was sent home with a stack of medications but without a diagnosis.

Interestingly, Mr. C actually suspected himself that he had gastric cancer given his strong family history; he expected that he would suffer from it one day. The doctors shook it off despite his persuasion. On the third visit, however, the doctors finally admitted him and performed an endoscopy. It was later confirmed to be Stage 3 gastric cancer. It was at this point in the conversation when emotions started running wild.

The atmosphere heated up. I was shot with questions and complaints by both Mr. C and his wife.

“I would not have been denied earlier detection and treatment if doctors listened to my history,” Mr. C said.

“That period of 6 months could have made a huge difference to his disease stage and prognosis!” Mr. C’s wife added.

“Do you think the doctors have done the right thing for me?” he asked.

“Doctors never bother to hear patients out!” he shouted.

It felt as if the blame was on me, and I felt angry for a moment. I was on the edge of questioning his accusations, and refuting his comments. I was conflicted inside. On the one hand, the manner in which he was treated at the ED seemed unjustified. But at the same time it did not seem fair for me to blame the doctors without understanding what their line of thought was.

I further understood that Mr. C had explained his case to a senior consultant, who was also the surgeon who performed his gastrectomy. The surgeon brushed Mr. C off, and told him rudely to switch to another hospital if he did not like it here. It was at this point that I stood in favor of Mr. C. I actually could not believe such an insolent comment would come from the mouth of a senior doctor, whom I thought was supposed to possess the maturity and authority to handle such a complex matter.

Mr. C and his wife were evidently distraught with how the diagnosis came about, compounded by the fact that he was still relatively young to suffer from stage 3 gastric cancer. He explained that gastric cancer is one of the most aggressive and treatment-resistant cancers with the highest mortality rate, as evident from the young deaths of his family members who succumbed to the illness. My heart immediately sank after coming to terms with his bleak prognosis.  I recalled what was taught in my clinical skills classes, and took on an empathetic coat to try and calm them down. I felt an ephemeral sense of shame for the apparent lack of professionalism Mr. C’s doctors had displayed. Furthermore, I was sunk in guilt for initially doubting his comments.

I continued with the rest of the history and thanked Mr. C and his wife for their time. I walked out of the room and told them, “Thank you for sharing with me. Both of you have taught me about the kind of doctor whom I do not want to emulate in the future”.

It was an eventful hospital experience for Mr. C, and a rather eventful conversation for me with him and his wife. Despite the awkwardness and negative emotions, it taught me a great deal about the nature of difficult situations, the qualities a doctor should possess, and the importance of communication.

It was no doubt a challenging conversation. It was unlike all the other conversations I have had with patients, that were full of praise for their doctors, which always reassured me of my choice to become one.  My limited exposure to issues that arise from the lack of proper doctor-patient communication caught me off guard during this particular conversation.

When I mentioned to Mr. C that I was a medical student, his facial expression and body language conveyed his bitterness and dissatisfaction. It was almost as if he had something against me. I was filled with self-doubt and hesitancy. I was unsure if I should persist with the conversation given his hostile appearance but I knew that he had a story that he was dying to tell. Mr. C’s experience at the ED has probably altered his perception of doctors, and it was worth it to hear him out.

In hindsight, I am consoled by the fact that I had that conversation with Mr. C because he gradually opened up to me, treated me as an avenue to vent his frustrations, and perhaps subconsciously, taught me a lesson or two about being a doctor. I have learned that patients are always keen for a listening ear, be it to share their joy, or to pour their sorrows. It is hence important for medical students like me to not be doubtful when approaching patients for the fear of intruding in their privacy or taking up their needful rest time. Never be afraid that you are just an unqualified medical student.

Communication is the crux of medicine. As Sir William Osler said, “The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.” History-taking is not just about the whims and fancies of signs, symptoms, investigations, and differentials. It is in fact a conversation, an opportunity to build rapport and trust with the patient. We are not community health surveyors ticking off boxes in our questionnaire; we are there to hear our patients out by expressing their problems and concerns. There is no better opportunity than in medical school, where you are not confined by the “rush hour” situation in hospitals, to hone these human skills.

Fortunately, patients tend to given you their trust, and willingly share their most personal information with you. This has shown me the power imbalance of the doctor-patient relationship, which arguably has been exploited in Mr. C’s case – i.e. doctors sometimes do not give patients enough attention.

Another issue that I struggled with was handling the complaints that were hurled my way. My lack of maturity was evident from my agitation, and the urge I had to refute Mr. C. Deep down, I was conflicted and defensive. Mr. C’s story contradicted my own impression that all doctors do their best for patients. It felt as if I was taking the blame on behalf of all doctors. However, I decided to stay quiet about it. I learnt that doctors aren’t  “super-humans” who will never make mistakes. It was only when I started consolidating my thoughts and weighing out the situation that I was eventually convinced that Mr. C’s care was indeed compromised by the negligence of his various doctors.

Admittedly, I handled the situation rather poorly. I reckon it was largely due to lack of exposure to such situations, especially given the sheltered, cozy environment we enjoy in medical school. Clinical interactions are based around simulated patients who, more often than not, have simple presentations that are short enough for us to take a history and perform a physical examination. Everything is staged for us to learn in a protected environment. Even in hospitals, the patients we see are recommended by interns as “cooperative enough” for us to take a history.

Medical students should be taught how to deal with complicated cases through the use of simulated patients. When I say complicated, I mean in a psychosocial sense rather than in a medical sense. The skills needed to deal with these situations are those that cannot be taught through textbooks, but through practice. These are human skills; skills that define the art of medicine. These non-scientific skills may not be as interesting as pathology, physiology or anatomy, but are equally, if not more important than the scientific aspects that students are often keener about.

Students are often enthusiastic to ask senior doctors about the scientific aspects of a patient’s presentation. Similarly, they should not be shy to ask them about approaches they should adopt when such situations arise. I am inclined to believe that most students underestimate the importance of communication, which often takes a backseat in their learning priorities.

Medical schools can no longer assume that their students are equipped with the necessary communication and social skills from just clinical skills examinations, which are often not representative of an actual hospital setting. Rather, explicit emphasis on the mastery of such complicated yet common social presentations, should be made an integral part of the curriculum.

I have learned the importance of giving patients the space to talk. For example, in my encounter, I was close to interrupting Mr. C when he was complaining about his experience. Having done so, however, would have prevented me from comprehending the entire situation in context. As medical students, we need to appreciate the difference between “listening to reply” and “listening to understand”. Practice the latter, not the former. Never be too quick to cut off your patients halfway through, and jump to conclusions. Let them tell their whole story, and you will be surprised to find that it contains most of the answers you need.

Photo Credit: Ky

Categories
General Lifestyle Reflection

Running

For just split seconds, I am floating, flying, feeling the space pass by. Then the flying ends, subtalar joint and plantar fascia absorbing the first impact of my landing. Gastrocnemius, soleus, and Achilles tendon maintain my stance, and along with my hamstring orchestrate takeoff. Then I am flying again, rectus femoris and iliopsoas swinging my leg forward.

My feet beat the drum of the earth, sarcomeres lengthening and then shortening, orchestrating flight and breath and blood flow. They lengthen and shorten, again and again. Intercostals and diaphragm labor rhythmically, cycling through hunger for air and fleeting relief.

As re-oxygenated blood returns to my left atrium, my attention returns to my thoughts. At first they fought for an audience, demanding my attention as I focus instead on the world around me, but soon it’s just me and my thoughts, as the air streams across my face. My legs stay strong, but beg me to stop. As I finish my run, my thoughts are with me, but whispering politely instead of shouting for attention, willing to leave as quietly as they came.

It isn’t the running, it’s the calm, the quiet, the peace in the cacophony. It isn’t the running, it’s the brisk morning breeze, the bronze fall leaves, the stars between the stars in the night sky. It isn’t the running, it’s me passing through space – a shooting star in the night sky trying to shine bright in the milliseconds I have to add a little light to the world. It isn’t the running, it’s the feeling of perfect harmony as the rhythm of my legs and arms and breath seems to match the rhythm of the world. It isn’t the running, so it is the running.

In the singularly focused chaos of medical school, running was just what I needed to reconnect with nature and the city around me. Earlier in medical school, a friend had asked me if I ran, and I answered, “Nope! Why would I run? I only chase soccer balls and cookies”. I am grateful that we are able to change, and I am now able to see beauty where I could see none before.

Photo Credit: Mark Hesseltine

Categories
disability Emotion Lifestyle Patient-Centered Care Psychology

Nodding Along

My grandmother was a strong and compassionate Egyptian woman, a mother of three, and a pathologist. On a glass slide, exactly like the ones she used daily, cells from her colon biopsy were identified as undifferentiated, and within days she was diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer.

Although I am learning how to care for people in sickness and health, someday, the chest compressions will be applied to my chest. Disease knows no discrimination, and death unites us all. Thousands of cancer diagnoses and precise and growing knowledge of cancer cell types did nothing to protect my grandmother from that which she knew so much about.

In Egypt, cancer is called ’the bad disease’, and bad it is. Over the next couple months, we watched as the bad disease took our beloved grandmother away from us. During that time, my family members, and my grandmother, had to make a series of challenging decisions that they were very obviously not prepared to make.

Medical advancements, although the main reason we are living longer lives, have caused the complexity and variety of end-of-life decisions to be ever increasing. Uneasy about the series of decisions that my family had to make and handicapped by my ignorance, I found myself reading Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. Atul Gawande led me through a vulnerable and imperfect but inspiring conversation about death and dying, exposing our medical system’s inability to understand health beyond the one-dimensional, and presumptuously noble, endeavor to prolong life at any cost.

While reading Being Mortal, I found myself enthusiastically nodding along, agreeing with the theme of the book: we need to change everything about our simple but destructive approach to aging and our increasing elderly population. Our singular approach to prolonging life simplifies complex social and medical decisions. It seems the attitude now is that longer life is all that matters. Ensuring nutrition and shelter is our only standard for a viable living environment for the elderly. We are failing our parents and grandparents.

Atul Gawande’s presentation of ideas changed how I perceive aging and our healthcare decisions at the end of life. I became a strong advocate of having conversations about the inevitability of our death and the choices we want to be made during our end-of-life care. I was convinced that society and healthcare should ensure that the elderly remain the authors of their own stories for as long as they are willing, and actively empower them to do so. Nutrition, shelter, and minimizing fall risk are minimums of care, not acceptable standards.

The Literature in Medicine Student Interest Group at my school decided to read Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, and I could not be more excited. In the middle of our meeting discussing the book, as I was passionately sharing my ideas, it occurred to me that although I was full of strong opinions, I had done absolutely nothing to be a part of the solution. My grandfather had come to live with us after his wife of 55 years, my grandmother, passed away from colon cancer, and my only roles/concerns in his care have been to ensure food, sleep, and meds. My strong opinions had not inspired my actions.

Nodding along to Atul Gawande’s criticisms of our medical system is easy, but having an honest conversation with my grandfather about his priorities and end-of-life care preferences as he reaches 90 years of age is not so easy. How might I empower my grandfather to continue to be the author of his story? Believing that healthcare is a right and not a privilege is easy, but carrying out the responsibility that this belief invokes is not so easy. How might I work to help provide all my neighbors with equal access to high-quality care? Practicing the invaluable intervention of presence is not easy, and working day after day to hone my abilities at the art of empathy is not easy. How might I overcome my doubts, fears, and insecurities, and avoid being frozen into lack of compassion?

Too often my strong opinions do not inform my actions. Too often my hate for dysfunctional and unjust systems overshadows my love for the people in the systems. I call myself to love my neighbors more than hate the systems, for love is actionable and hate is stifling and tiresome. Let love fuel the tank, for compassion-based activism is the only kind that goes the distance.

Photo Credit: Dan Strange

Categories
Clinical Patient-Centered Care Psychiatry Public Health

If you don’t ask, you’ll never know

On the first day of my first rotation as a medical student, my preceptor shared this bit of wisdom: if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.  In the nearly 18 months that have followed, I think about those words on a daily basis. To my mind, asking questions does more than just help us gather data. Asking questions establishes the type of relationship we are going to have with our patients. There are so many questions I wish I would never have to ask, whose affirmative answers are often indicative of the cruelty of this world. But when I ask about things like whether a patient has been the victim of abuse, I hope it sends the message that the relationship we are about to embark upon is one that can withstand such unpleasantness.

Not only can it be excruciatingly frustrating when other practitioners don’t share this point of view, it potentially has grave consequences. Unfortunately, patients with mental illness often seem to be the victims of physician “brush-off.” As someone who plans to devote her life to working with the mentally ill, I can only hypothesize as to why the same patients I find so much joy in working with are often given sub-par medical care as compared to their non-mentally ill peers. Perhaps physicians feel uncomfortable providing care for patients who come across as different than the norm, or perhaps their medical problems are too frequently attributed to psychiatric causes.

I recently cared for a patient who was two weeks post-partum from the birth of her first child. Though she was being seen for psychiatric admission, multiple aspects of her health were addressed during our initial evaluation.  When asked about her post-partum health, she denied having been scheduled for a post-partum visit with her obstetrician. Casually, she mentioned that she was having some malodorous green discharge since giving birth. It doesn’t take a medical degree to know that green, foul-smelling discharge is not a good sign, let alone when it occurs in the immediate post-partum time period. We were able to secure a next-day appointment with our hospital’s obstetrical practice, and with the patient’s permission, called ahead to the clinic to alert them of her complaints.

The next day, the care team gathered around to read the note from the obstetrician who had seen our patient. The note comprised all of five lines.  There were no pending labs. There was no mention of a physical exam.

There was no mention of the discharge at all.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states, “It is recommended that all women undergo a comprehensive postpartum visit within the first 6 weeks after birth. This visit should include a full assessment of physical, social, and psychological well-being.”[1] The issue here, though, isn’t really about post-partum care. The issue here is about how we as health care providers need to provide equal care for unequal bodies and minds, and how we need to protect and advocate for our patients.

Patients with mental illness undeniably have poorer overall health. The average lifespan for an American adult with mental illness is a striking 30% shorter than for a non-mentally ill individual.[2]  While it is known that mental illness itself creates difficulty in accessing the healthcare system, for mentally-ill patients who do access healthcare, their quality of care is demonstrably lower than it is for those without mental illness. Literature consistently demonstrates that patients with psychiatric diagnoses receive fewer preventative health measures and have overall poorer quality healthcare than patients without psychiatric diagnoses.[3],[4] No matter what field of medicine you are in, you will see patients with mental illness. For these patients who sometimes cannot speak for themselves, the role of the physician in patient advocacy becomes even more crucial.

I will never know exactly what transpired during that appointment between my patient and the obstetrician, but I do know that obstetrician did not ask the questions that needed to be asked, and therefore did not ascertain the information necessary to appropriately care for the patient. At our request, a different practitioner saw the patient again. This time, the appropriate questions were asked, the appropriate testing was completed, and ultimately the patient was diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection. Left untreated by the first obstetrician, this infection could have caused my patient systemic symptoms and permanent infertility.

As future physicians, it’s important for us to keep asking questions. So often, I have been surprised by the information I find when I ask a question about which I almost kept silent. Equally as important as asking the questions, however, is doing something with the information that you receive. The good doctor isn’t necessarily the one that stops the green discharge; they’re the one the identifies the problem in the first place and advocates on behalf of the patient to get the best people for the job.

[1] https://www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Optimizing-Postpartum-Care

[2] http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/19570498

[3] http://journals.lww.com/lww-medicalcare/Abstract/2002/02000/Quality_of_Preventive_Medical_Care_for_Patients.7.aspx

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2951586/

Photo credit: airpix