1. An article in Time magazine is headlined “It’s Not You, Doctors Are Just Rude.”

The first sentence of the article is “Doctors-in-training are in need of a dose of compassion.”

It describes a paper from Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland about intern communication behaviors. Interns were watched by trained observers.

Although interns were pretty good about touching patients and asking open-ended questions, they only introduce themselves 40% of the time and explained their roles only 37% of the time. They also sat down with patients just 9% the time.

Observations were made on 732 patient encounters, but only 29 first-year internal medicine trainees were involved.

The abstract did not explain whether these first-year interns had received any training in communication (“interpersonal skills and communication” is one of the 6 ACGME core competencies), nor did it state at what point in their first year the study was done.

The headline of the piece in Time is a bit misleading since it suggests that all doctors are rude. Similarly, the first sentence of the article somehow brings in compassion.

The study was not about rudeness or compassion; rather it was about communication.

2. An article from a website called iMedicalApps gushes with excitement about the fact that Google Glass can be used by a surgeon to view continuous vital signs while operating.

It could be that Google Glass is going to revolutionize medical care, but I don’t think it’s going to be useful in the context of a surgeon looking at vital signs while she is operating.

You cannot concentrate on the operation and look at a Google Glass display of vital signs.

When I was operating, I was fully focused on the procedure. I depended on the anesthesiologist to alert me to any significant changes in the patient’s vital signs.

If I wanted to know what the vital signs were, I simply asked the anesthesiologist. For me, that low-tech action was adequate.

Did you know that Google’s founder is no longer wearing his Glass everywhere, and Nasdaq reports that 9 of 16 developers have abandoned their Google Glass apps.

3. Here’s a headline from the Los Angeles Times. “Walk this way: Men slow down when sex is at stake.”

This is about a PLOS One study looking at 11 male and 11 female college students who walked around a track alone, with a significant other, or with friends of the same or opposite sex. The study found that men walked significantly more slowly when they were paired with a female romantic partner, compared to walking with another man or a woman who was simply a friend.

The authors concluded following: “Because the male carries the energetic burden by adjusting his pace (slowing down 7%), the female is spared the potentially increased caloric cost required to walk together.”

Supposedly, men are helping their romantic partners conserve energy and thus promoting reproductive success. This is apparently a big issue in hunter-gatherer societies who walk long distances. It’s not quite so clear why college students walking 400 meters would do the same thing. The authors speculated that it might be an evolutionary issue. Right. Let’s not make sweeping cultural observations based on a ‘n’ of 22.

Regarding the article, a woman who follows me on Twitter said, “Not my hubby, tho we do have 2 kids.”

Skeptical Scalpel is a retired surgeon and was a surgical department chairman and residency program director for many years. He is board-certified in general surgery and critical care and has re-certified in both several times. He blogs at SkepticalScalpel.blogspot.com and tweets as @SkepticScalpel. His blog averages over 1400 page views per day, and he has over 10,800 followers on Twitter.