By Henry Ehrlich
This website prides itself on keeping up with new events and ideas, then channeling them into copy expeditiously, authoritatively, clearly, and entertainingly if possible. Even by our own standards (averaging almost two original posts per week for just over four years), the past couple of weeks have been notable. We have had three remarkable guest posts (Dr. Peter Lio, Dr. Robert Y. Lin, and Dr. David Stukus) and one by our resident blogger and co-founder Dr. Larry Chiaramonte.
I met Dr. Stukus the last weekend of September at the Food Allergy Bloggers Conference where he gave several fluent talks on subjects like atopic dermatitis. What grabbed my attention, however, was the fact that his practice predominantly serves Medicaid patients. The broad issue of health disparities in this country is something that should concern everyone. Poorly controlled asthma among children of every social stratum affects their ability to reach their full potential and lead productive lives, but those in stable, comfortable homes have the resources to catch up. Larry and Paul have both devoted substantial parts of their careers to serving disadvantaged urban children and discuss their experiences extensively in our book. Dr. Stukus takes this discussion much further, analyzing the ways the asthma deck is stacked against these children. Incidentally, he distinguishes between “compliance” and “adherence” so eloquently that I hope never to use them interchangeably again.
The other three pieces, two of them in Q&A format, were all done in response to new articles that have appeared in recent issues of allergy journals. Medical literature is usually written in language that obscures the reasons anyone should care. When it emerges in the mainstream press, however, the opposite is true. Namely, whatever is interesting about the piece is exaggerated to the point of distortion. Vaguely promising treatments are inflated into panaceas.
These three doctors generously gave their time to helping sift through the scholarship (in Dr. Lin’s case it was his own scholarship) and explain what it means for the rest of us. The original premise of this website when it was launched in tandem with the publication of our book was “medicine moves faster than print.” Many thanks to the good doctors for helping us validate that mission.