Issue 25: sepsis, ebola, thirdhand smoke, depressed doctors, and AI

Sepsis cure has a ton of haters

dank meme

What does the new treatment for sepsis have in common with Taylor Swift? They’ve both been accused of being snakes. More specifically, Dr. Paul Marik’s alleged cure for sepsis was referred to as mere “snake oil” by those who dismissed its medicinal value. Sepsis has long been linked to severe and often fatal health consequences in the hospital, as it takes the lives of over 700 Americans each day. So when Dr. Marik came forth with a cocktail of intravenous vitamin C, vitamin B1, and corticosteroids to administer to septic patients, he was surprised to be met with so much resistance from his colleagues. But preliminary research has found that Dr. Marik’s cocktail may indeed be effective in halting progressive organ failure and bringing down mortality rates of those with severe sepsis and septic shock. Additional studies are underway to find more evidence regarding its effectiveness, but if it’s found to be successful, it could have an amazing impact on health all over the globe since the treatment is relatively inexpensive. Call it a snake all you want, but this cocktail might end up saving millions of lives in the future.

Ebola is back
Image from unicef

One death and 27 total cases of hemorrhagic fever have been reported. The deadly disease that shook the world a couple years ago is back. A refresher: The Ebola virus can infect monkeys and humans, and took more than 11,000 lives from 2013-2016 of which about half died, mostly in West Africa. Symptoms are similar to other viral diseases, and it can easily be mistaken. However, it can cause deadly, multi organ bleeding due to damaging effects on vasculature and inability to clot. The disease is spread by direct contact with blood and secretions from infected persons. The good news is there is no evidence regarding transmission through intact skin, such as from a handshake or cough. Poor Congo has battled Ebola over the years, and we hope this one is quickly contained by the cohort of its government, the WHO, and other help.

Thirdhand smoking is a thing and it’s bad for you
cool pic I found online

A new study has made the term thirdhand smoking more popular. It refers to the chemicals produced from smoking that are left on indoor surfaces. Upon contact, the chemical residue can be absorbed to your skin. It can also be inhaled. Yea, it’s probably worse for little babies than adults. Although not entirely sure how bad the effect is on the human body, the study did reveal that the chemicals can be picked up and travel through vents. So you’re not safe if your arch-nemesis neighbor is a chainsmoker.

Don’t blame your mom for your low IQ
dank baby meme

There is an urban myth that infants who were breastfed have stronger immune system, are smarter, and make more cheddar aka dinero aka phat stacks. In fact it was more than an urban myth, as there were observational studies that supported the idea. A new study from "buzzkill" Belarus, however, showed that there was “no discernible effect on cognitive function by the time children reached age 16.” The study had classified 13,557 children as either exclusively breast-fed or just nurtured with usual care. The first group did have a higher score in verbal function, but there was no significant difference in I.Q.  

Depressing Times

New health insurance data shows that depression rates are going wayyy up in all Americans- but most of all in teens and young adults. And that’s only out of the people surveyed, so these trends don’t include people who don’t have commercial health insurance. Dr. Laurel Williams from Texas Children’s Hospital says that this increase in depression is linked to people worrying about how busy they are, lack of community, and the amount of time we spend in front of screens instead of people. “If you don’t have a community to reach out to, then your hopelessness doesn’t have any place to go” he said. Specifically, kids and young adults feel pressure, rising from influences like social media. In fact, social media can also lead to addiction, social isolation, poor performance in school, and lack of sleep, according to Dr. Karyn Horowitz of Bradley Hospital. The CDC says that depression may be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors, so you never know who could be facing depression.

NOTE: recently a 4th year med student and an attending in NYC both committed suicide last week days apart from each other. Mental health and suicide are serious problems not just in the general community but especially in the medical community. There are resources that anyone can use including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We've got to look after each other and ourselves.  

Could doctors use more AI in the future? duh
I have no idea where I even found this image but the OG Ray Kurzweil has been saying this for YEARSSSSS

Researchers at the University of Chicago, Stanford, UCSF, and Google applied machine learning algorithms to a massive set of de-identified patient data to accurately predict/diagnose disease, likelihood of patient death, length of hospital stay, and probability of readmission. You don't have to have an MD to realize how incredibly useful this might be to providers. Also it wouldn't be a story about AI/ML if we didn't tell you at least one slightly creepy fact: within 24 hours of hospitalization the algorithms were able to predict the patients odds of dying better than 90%...annnndddd researchers have no idea why it's so accurate. Legal experts according to a recent Harvard Business Report think that someday these algorithms will be so accurate that doctors might be penalized for NOT using them.