A weekly podcast about the people, issues and ideas that are shaping health care.
92: What we take for granted after 30 years of Prozac
When Prozac first entered the psychiatry scene in in the late 80s, the profession was still Freud's territory. Meaning: it was considered by many a failure to take medication to cure depression. But that was all about to change, with early stewards like psychiatrist Peter Kramer, who refused to shy away from the new drug's potential. These days, he says that people take for granted all of the progress that's been made with antidepressant treatment. Kramer joins Torie to discuss how the country's relationship with antidepressants has changed since the publication of his book "Listening to Prozac." The conversation is based on his First Opinion, "What antidepressants are saying 30 years after the publication of ‘Listening to Prozac.'"
Be sure to sign up for the First Opinion newsletter to read each week's best First Opinion essays.
91: Living in cancer limbo
Fifteen years ago, Mara Buchbinder and colleagues came up with the concept of the “patient in waiting.” The concept described a new category of patients created by cutting-edge testing for conditions that may never appear. The patient in waiting was, quite literally, someone who was waiting to see if they would become ill.
Mara's husband, Jesse Summers, was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer in 2021. It went into remission — but earlier this year, a test searching for disease recurrence came back weakly positive, suggesting that the cancer might be back but might not be. It put Jesse and Mara into a sort of limbo as they waited to see what the result meant.
90: The true costs of mediocre insurance plans for medical students
This week, medical student Amelia Mercado and her professor J. Wesley Boyd talk about the stressors of medical training, privacy concerns within academic institutions, and how high insurance costs affect access to mental health care.
The conversation is based on their co-authored First Opinion, "How medical schools are failing students who need mental health care."
89: Putting an end to a racist "diagnosis"
The term "excited delirium" has been used for years by law enforcement and other first responders, including health care workers, to describe people who exhibit behavior that is considered "out of control." This diagnosis has been applied again and again, even posthumously, as a justification for extreme and sometimes deadly, interventions by law enforcement. It came up most recently in the trials of two police officers accused of causing the death of Elijah McClain, a Colorado man; both officers were acquitted this week.
But excited delirium is not an evidence-based medical diagnosis. The American College of Emergency Physicians recently withdrew a 2009 white paper endorsing the concept, and California has banned it as a cause of death. Other states may follow suit. This week, we are joined by emergency phyisicians Utsha G. Khatri and Brooks Walsh, who speak about why the "excited delirium" label is both unnecessary and dangerous.
Check out our episode of Color Code about "excited delirium" as well as a previous episode of the First Opinion Podcast on the topic. And sign up for the First Opinion newsletter.
88: Sniffing out the power, and limits, of the placebo effect
Have you ever taken phenylephrine for a stuffed-up nose and then felt better? If so, you might have been perplexed when Food and Drug Administration experts recently said that that the drug — which is in some versions of DayQuil, Sudafed, and other medicines — is no more effective than a placebo. But to Michael H. Bernstein, an assistant professor of diagnostic imaging at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, it all makes sense. On this episode, Bernstein discusses the placebo effect and its counterpart, the “nocebo effect.”
87: Why don’t the rules of war protect health care workers and facilities in Gaza?
In just two weeks, the brutality of the Israel-Hamas conflict has shocked the world. But one of its most heartbreaking aspects — the destruction of the already-struggling health care system in Gaza — is part of a decades-long pattern during war both in the region and around the world. Leonard Rubenstein is a distinguished professor of practice at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and author of “Perilous Medicine: The Struggle to Protect Health Care From the Violence of War.” On this episode of the First Opinion Podcast, we spoke about health care in war, the Geneva Conventions, and why it’s so difficult to hold those who break international law accountable.
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Great content, easy to follow and full of great insights.
Really engaging conversations
I love to listen to this podcast on my morning commute!
Podcast about opioids and Vietnam
I am a huge fan of Stat News. This episode is not your best work. The field has moved away from terms like misuse and abuse AND you should explain the difference between dependence and addiction and clarify which you are referring to here. Addiction is the severest form of a substance use disorder - it’s a clinical condition w diagnostic criteria.