Precarity: the perfect word for our times

by Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters   

I learned a terrific new word recently. The word is precarity, meaning the state of being precarious, unpredictable or uncertain. Any woman who is freshly diagnosed with heart disease already knows the precarity of life following a cardiac event – a reality that suddenly feels precarious, unpredictable and uncertain as we try to make sense of something that makes no sense. And after 19 months of navigating a global pandemic, we now know yet another kind of precarity.       .          .  Continue reading “Precarity: the perfect word for our times”

Learn or Blame: when mistakes happen in medicine

by Carolyn Thomas   ♥   @HeartSisters

Mistakes happen in medicine, just like in every other workplace. As intensive care physician and president of The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) Dr. Samantha Batt-Rawden reminded us in a BBC Newsnight interview:

“If patients are looking for a doctor who has never made a mistake, they simply won‘t find one.”       .          .         .

Continue reading “Learn or Blame: when mistakes happen in medicine”

A tale of two studies – 268 years apart

lemonsICEby Carolyn Thomas      @HeartSisters 

I wrote last week about patients who tend to believe medical studies whose findings they like – but not so much if they don’t.  Hardly surprisingly, many physicians may also tend to promote the results of studies when conclusions match their own clinical experience – and not so much if they don’t. That’s exactly what Dr. James Lind worried about, too – way back in the year 1753.  Dr. Lind’s story may have been one of the earliest examples of what’s often called the “bench to bedside” delay between research findings and the time they take to ultimately trickle down to alter actual patient care.   .    .     .  Continue reading “A tale of two studies – 268 years apart”

Discordance: when patients and docs aren’t on the same page

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters

In her Netflix comedy special, “Not Normal”, Wanda Sykes recalls  having severe post-operative pain following the double mastectomy she underwent after her breast cancer diagnosis. She asked hospital staff for pain medication, but was offered only ibuprofen (or, as Wanda now describes it, “ibu-f***ing-profen!”)  Her white male friends, by comparison, told her that they’d each been given far more effective meds for far less severe pain after their own hospital procedures.

Her recommendation to women now is: “Bring a white man to do your complaining for you! ”   That’s pretty funny. But we all know that the reality is not funny at all.              .        .
Continue reading “Discordance: when patients and docs aren’t on the same page”

Stroke survivor Sharon Dreher: “Don’t use a 1-10 pain scale on women who have delivered a baby”

by Carolyn Thomas       @HeartSisters 

When I first watched the video of her story at the 2019 Canadian Stroke Congress, I almost fell off my red chair. Unlike most stroke patients, Sharon’s symptoms did NOT follow the typical F.A.S.T. model (short for: Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties and Time to call emergency services).        .     .   Continue reading “Stroke survivor Sharon Dreher: “Don’t use a 1-10 pain scale on women who have delivered a baby””

Walking the tightrope: women cardiologists in an old boys’ club

by Carolyn Thomas     @HeartSisters   

You know there’s trouble when the Women In Cardiology Leadership Council reports this year that their group (part of the American College of Cardiology) is “very frustrated and concerned about the lack of growth in the numbers of women pursuing a career in cardiology.”(1) 

And no wonder! Fewer than 13 per cent of cardiologists are women, despite what’s been called “a robust pipeline of female med students and internal medicine residents” who could choose this field.(2)  And I’d bet my next squirt of nitro spray that a man implanted your stent  – because only about 5 per cent of all interventional cardiologists (the ones specifically trained for this procedure) are women.

Female cardiologists are not only the minority in their profession, but “discrimination against women is entrenched in the culture of cardiology”; in fact, female cardiologists are more likely than males (96% vs 8%) to experience discrimination related to gender.(3)       .         .            .         .    Continue reading “Walking the tightrope: women cardiologists in an old boys’ club”