My blog post the other day about the surgeon who committed battery by placing a temporary tattoo on an unconscious patient has generated quite a bit of, shall we say, consternation among some physicians and surgeons. In re-reading the post, I see that it was written in a way that was overly hyperbolic and generalized even for PhysioProf.
And for that, I am genuinely sorry. As bloggers, we always try to create controversy and argument, but I see that in this case I went too far.
Although I am not an MD, I love being a peripheral part of the medical profession, love being a basic science faculty member at a medical school, and love teaching medical students. I care very deeply for my medical students, and spend a lot of time and effort on effective teaching. I also have great affection for them, and wish them only the best in their future medical careers.
And that is why I am so concerned about the behavior of the “tattoo surgeon”. I do see an issue with paternalism, arrogance, and omnipotence in the profession, and I do not see the behavior of this surgeon as being solely attributable to a “lone bad actor”. Bad acts occur in a context, and I believe that to at least some extent, the medical profession includes a context that makes bad acts like this one more likely.
Accordingly, I disagree strenuously with something PalMD posted today about this issue:

The days of systematic pathologic paternalism on the part of doctors is long gone. It may linger in places, but it’s just not part of the culture anymore.

I believe this is not true, and it harms the medical profession to pretend that there is no longer an issue to be addressed.

Ed Yong recently asked his readers to tell him a little about themselves and what they enjoy about his blog, Not Exactly Rocket Science. The comments got really interesting to read. Since typical comment-to-lurker ratios bandied about run in the very-small-minority ranges, 5-10%, bloggers do not really have a good feel for who their readers are and why the regulars keep coming back.
This is by way of partially excusing my completely self-indulgent and self-aggrandizing behavior- blame it on someone else! (I’m not capping on Ed here, he’s an actual, you know, professional science writer with some serious chops. In his case this is obligatory market research for his professional work.) Anyhow, consider this one of those de-lurker posts from YHN.
I’ll treat Ed’s post as if it were a meme*. Among other things, that lets me blatently steal his framing of the question.

Tell me about you. Who are you? Do you have a background in science? If so, what draws you here as opposed to meatier, more academic fare? And if not, what brought you here and why have you stayed? Let loose with those comments.

Have at it my friends.
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*If you blog, consider yourself tagged! [Update: Similar threads from ScienceWomen, Coturnix and drdrA.]

A comment left by a reader some time ago took exception to one of my posts highlighting another blogger.

wow, that is some excellent PR for a grad student to get for free. perhaps you could spotlight a female grad student as well…?

The ensuing discussion planted the idea for this post.

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SciMonkbling Evil Monkey has a post up at Neurotopia (Version 2.0) in which he rails against idiot reviewer comments found in the summary statements. These latter are the written critiques provided by the three (typically) reviewers assigned to a NIH grant application. Applicant complaints about such comments are rampant and YHN as ranted about many such comments in his day. Nevertheless, writing and reading many such summary statements while serving on a study section has provided me with a great deal of additional context that was not obvious to me from my previous experience as only an applicant.
First, go read Evil Monkey’s post and chime in with your favorite idiot reviewer comments. Then come back over here and read the following thought I posted over at the old blog a year ago.


Now that we’re past the new-R01 deadline and heading for the revised-R01 deadline it is time to talk summary statements. Out they come and we start perusing them for clues as to how to revise so as to improve our score. Frequently, one starts tearing one’s hair when it seems that the reviews cannot have been done by anyone 1) with a brain, 2) familiar with the science or 3) who actually read the grant.

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Apparently, a surgeon has been committing battery on his patients by applying temporary tattoos to their bodies while they are unconscious during surgery. Given the way physicians are trained to believe they are gods who function on a practical and ethical plane that is above mere mortals, this kind of shit doesn’t surprise me one bit.
From a legal standpoint, this is clearly battery, as these patients gave informed consent to a particular operation, and not to having temporary tattoos placed on their bodies while unconscious. It is battery in exactly the same way it would be battery if you put a temporary tattoo on the body of a stranger asleep at the beach.
For more discussion, see my and Lauren’s posts at Feministe.

In my post on the interactive map of US prescription opiate use trends provided by the Las Vegas Sun I initially missed the association with a three-part series on “The New Addiction”. This explains why the Sun came up with the map in the first place which I should have thought about a bit more. Bad DM!
At any rate there’s all kinds of interesting stuff in here such as a reader poll with only 53% of respondents (as of 7/22/08) saying it is “difficult” to persuade a doctor to provide a prescription for narcotics:

Jennifer Hilton says that after she had a tooth filled, her dentist handed her a prescription for Vicodin even though she was not complaining about pain. She bristled at the unsolicited prescription because she’s a program coordinator for an inpatient drug addiction program for adolescent girls that’s run by Westcare, a Las Vegas nonprofit that specializes in substance abuse treatment.

and a suggestion that the rising trend is all the fault of the American Pain Society in cahoots with BigPharma.

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Chris Mooney has a post up at The Intersection in which he lauds an LA audience for “getting” Sizzle, for laughing “at all the right moments”, and rues the fact that many ScienceBloggers “either didn’t like Sizzle or didn’t appear to get it”.

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