From the monthly archives:

September 2008

The Pause That Refreshes

by Brian Carty, MD, MSPH

The site is being redesigned as a blog, so there won’t be any new posts for a week or two.  After that, I have some great stuff for you!


Does This Truck Stop Have a Starbuck’s?

by Brian Carty, MD, MSPH

A Few Interesting  Facts About Coffee - Hot Licks, Cold Steel, and a Medium Extra Hot Latte

Have you seen the “truckers only” section in truck stop restaurants? Are the truckers set apart so that they don’t have to look at your “Think Globally, Act Locally” T-shirt? An urban legend has it that amphetamines have been added to the coffee in the truckers’ section.

However, even regular coffee can increase alertness and possibly decrease the risk of an auto accident.

Also, one study showed that coffee drinkers have lower suicide rates than nondrinkers.

However, a later study showed higher suicide rates in heavy coffee drinkers, 8 or more cups per day.

Moderate coffee consumption can even enhance athletic performance.

Coffee may even reduce the risk of diabetes.

Some people suffer adverse effects from coffee and caffeine, and pregnant women should avoid caffeine.

So are you ready to try sampling the special brew in the truckers only section.? If you have a baseball cap, you might pass for one of them. Just don’t wear it backwards.

Some years ago, a college friend and I tried sitting in the truckers only section. We were asked to leave. Should we have taken that as a compliment or an insult?


The Doctor and His Car - Trampled by the Rampant Stallion

by Brian Carty, MD, MSPH

The Enzo Ferrari, the payoff for the long, hard years of medical training. (Not Really)

The Enzo Ferrari, the payoff for the long, hard years of medical training. (Not Really)

The 1991 movie “The Doctor” begins with William Hurt as a surgeon - confidently, even arrogantly, tooling around in his Mercedes and chatting on a cell phone. Chrysler has since worked its magic on Mercedes Benz, turning it into a junk brand. The cell phone, once an expensive status symbol, is now a cheap accessory owned by almost everyone. And the rich, carefree doctor played by William Hurt is no more, if he ever existed. The Mercedes has been replaced by a Toyota Camry or a Honda Accord, or at best, a Lexus.

Dr. Kildare under siege

In fact, it’s hard to portray today’s physician as a dashing medical hero. How would the movie and television superdocs of yesteryear look being threatened by a hospital clerk with the loss of hospital privileges for undictated charts? Or nagged about preauthorizing nonformulary drug prescriptions? How would Dr. Kildare or Marcus Welby look if they were shown accused of sexual harassment for “prolonged staring” at the large breasts of a nurse?

Crummy cars are the least of our worries

In these and many other ways, the doctor of today is a person who is cornered, a person who has lost something. By comparison, that many physicians no longer drive a Mercedes or a Porsche seems a minor irritant.

What happened to all the Porsches in the doctors’ parking lot?

So in spite of the popular stereotype of doctors with expensive cars, you see fewer Porsches and BMWs in the doctors’ parking lot these days. This is not necessarily bad for doctors or anyone else, but the reasons for it are obvious. Most important is that physicians in many specialties have had their incomes cut by 50% or more in the last 10 or 20 years. Furthermore, maybe expensive cars are less important to doctors than before. After all, many affluent and accomplished people drive modest or even shabby cars.

But when I’m saving lives, I’ll do it in style. Put me down for the “rampant stallion” (the Ferrari logo). Specifically, an Enzo Ferrari: 650 hp, 0-60 in 3.3 sec, $652,830. Oh yes, top speed 218 mph.

Unintended consequences

“Excuse me officer, is there a problem?”

“&*!#$% * $?*#$$& ?>**=. #@&>??”

“I’m a doctor. I’m on my way to an emergency.”

“%$*&? *&*@?<* ?+#^@!!”

“Get out of the car? What do you mean, get out of the car?”