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Reading Room

The reading room includes articles of potential interest to consumers and medical professionals. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the NC Medical Board, its members and staff.

Sepsis is the third leading cause of death. Can a new blood test change that?

STATNews
July 3, 2018
In his spare time, when he feels up to it, Ronnie Roberts walks through hospital parking lots slipping informational flyers onto every windshield. Roberts wants people to know the signs of sepsis, the body’s overwhelming response to a blood infection, which can lead to organ failure and even death. If he had known the signs and insisted that his fiancee was treated appropriately, he believes she’d still be alive. Sepsis kills over 250,000 people a year in the United States — more than any cause other than cancer and heart disease. But still, many people have never heard of it. And hospitals often fail to notice the warning signs when a patient is spiraling downward.

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The Neuroscience of Pain

The New Yorker
July 2, 2018
On a foggy February morning in Oxford, England, I arrived at the John Radcliffe Hospital, a shiplike nineteen-seventies complex moored on a hill east of the city center, for the express purpose of being hurt. I had an appointment with a scientist named Irene Tracey, a brisk woman in her early fifties who directs Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences and has become known as the Queen of Pain. “We might have a problem with you being a ginger,” she warned when we met. Redheads typically perceive pain differently from those with other hair colors; many also flinch at the use of the G-word. “I’m sorry, a lovely auburn,” she quickly said, while a doctoral student used a ruler and a purple Sharpie to draw the outline of a one-inch square on my right shin.

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Scientists can track the spread of opioids in sewers. But do cities want to know what lies below?

STATNews
June 26, 2018
The French novelist Victor Hugo described the sewage system as “the consciousness of the city,” a place where there are no secrets. Transporting millions of gallons of wastewater, the sewer contains a record of the public’s health and the substances it consumes. Today, science has made possible what Hugo could not have fathomed in his day: water-sampling robots placed at strategic points in a sewer system and capable of delivering ever-more precise information about a community’s health.

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The patient was saying sexist things. How I handled him made me part of the problem

STATNews
June 8, 2018
Being the resident on call in the hospital carries a lot of responsibility. It’s part of my job to make sure our patients in the emergency room are seen and evaluated by all the different people who might be involved in their care, including my co-residents. The hours are long and the work can be grueling, but it’s a necessary evil: I’m in my second year of residency and I’m learning how to respond to crisis and how to make decisions alone.

STAT columnist Dr. Jennifer Okwerekwu and her colleague Dr. Gaddy Noy discuss a difficult situation they faced during a recent overnight shift they worked together.

 

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Blood test might help predict both preterm and healthy delivery dates

STATNews
June 7, 2018
For most women, one of the most stressful parts of giving birth is not knowing when it’s going to happen. Roughly 15 million pregnant women face life-threatening spontaneous preterm birth every year. And doctors don’t really understand why some pregnancies — nearly 10 percent of all U.S. births — end suddenly, weeks or even months before they should.

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Primer: How To Speak Basic Biotech, From ‘Transformative’ To ‘Valley Of Death’

WBUR
June 04, 2018
The Boston area’s booming biotech cluster is a little like a country with its own culture: tribes, hierarchies, social currency, customs. And cultures tend to have languages. So how does one begin to speak biotech?

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