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Fictional Nurses, Intractable Conditions, Nonspecific Symptoms, Frustrating Patients, More

June 27, 2013
COPD smoker

Dept. of Bad Ideas..

By Jacob Molyneux, senior editor

Keeping up with the Web-sters. If you happen to use a Web reader of any sort to collect updates (feeds) from all your favorite nursing blogs and health care news sources in one place—we ran an article on using RSS feeds a while back, “RSS for the Uninitiated,” which will be free for the next month—you may know that Google Reader, long a convenient choice, will soon no longer exist. Here are 10 alternative readers you might want consider as replacements (and if you don’t use a reader already, you might want to try it).

A new kind of nursing blog. Nurse, artist, blogger Julianna Paradisi, who writes a monthly post for this blog, has just launched a new blog that will be narrated by a fictional nurse called Niki. This sounds like a really great idea that could go in a lot of potential directions.

Lyme disease continues to grow as a health threat in leafy environments further and further afield. It’s insidious, can attack the body in multiple ways, and there’s a huge amount of controversy about whether conventional short-term antibiotic treatments actually wipe it out or not. Many argue that it can be chronic, and that it’s often missed by the tests most often used to detect its presence. This article in the New Yorker gives a really good overview of the state of the research and the central questions being debated by patient advocates and researchers. Be warned: it may leave you feeling a bit disheartened about the limits of medical certainty.

DOMA and Obamacare. The Supreme Court’s ruling yesterday that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional is likely to have repercussions in the always tricky world of health care coverage. Here’s a brief overview of issues of relevance to those who may be obtaining insurance through Obamacare in the near future.

When patients harm themselves. From the June issue of AJN, here’s an ethics article that you might have missed: in “Helping Patients Who Don’t Help Themselves” (free until July 27), nurse ethicist Doug Olsen considers the ethical obligations and challenges nurses face in treating patients who continue self-destructive practices such as smoking with COPD, gobbling junk food when suffering from the consequences of out-of-control type 2 diabetes, and so on. Writes Olsen:

Caring for patients who continue to behave in harmful ways can be personally frustrating and professionally unsatisfying. Nurses have reported feeling powerless and losing empathy when they’re unable to stop patients from continuing an unhealthful lifestyle. Clinicians may also feel less connected to patients they see as responsible for their pathology.

When your child has epilepsy. And in the July issue, now live on our Web site, the Viewpoint essay is by Linda Breneman, whose son developed epilepsy at age three. Breneman’s story serves as the basis for an impassioned call for more research into epilepsy, especially into how we can help the 20% to 30% of those with epilepsy who have the “intractable” kind, those whose seizures are not controlled by medication, diet, drugs, nerve-stimulating implants, or radical brain surgery.

April is the cruelest month? And from the New York Times Well blog, a post looking at new research into possible reasons for the increase in suicide rates in May and June, a question that takes on greater urgency given an overall increase in the suicide rate in recent years, particularly among middle-aged men. While an obvious contributing factor would seem to be the economic pressures felt by Americans, the research considers theories such as increased inflammatory activity at certain times of year.

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