Nothing is benign

By: Emory Liscord, M.D.

Recently a friend and fellow ER physician told me about a case that humbled her. She saw a otherwise healthy 20 year old man in the ER for nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Labs were normal. He was well appearing. He had the stomach bug. Yup. The kind of thing that is best treated with toast, some chicken noodle soup and a nap. In an attempt to get her patient feeling better she gave him some Zofran, a commonly prescribed medication for nausea. No biggie. We do this all the time. Nausea is miserable. Well, turns out, this patient had an unknown allergy to Zofran. He went into anaphylactic shock, went to the ICU and nearly died.

Nothing is benign.

Over a week ago, a friend told me that his cardiologist thought most of people would benefit from taking a statin to Lower cholesterol even if they didn’t have high cholesterol to begin with. I mean, why not. Who wants “plaques” in their arteries. Eww…… Just sounds like a good idea. But the problem is, the benefit of statins are questionable, even in people with a history of heart disease and there is no
Literature that I am aware of supporting the use in healthy people. Now we are learning more about some serious down side to statins including a link to diabetes

Nothing is benign

The medical field is trained to prescribe medications but I think we need to take pause. Even some of the treatments in the ER considered standard of care are sketchy when it comes to that data. And I am not letting naturopaths off the hook either. Vitamins, minerals and supplements can be dangerous and expensive.

Nothing is benign

And I’m also not letting the general public off the hook. The expectation that there is a pill or treatment that will fix all your medical problems is just unrealistic. We cannot expect a medication to fix something that was caused by years of environmental insult.

Sometimes we need to let our bodies heal with no intervention but chicken soup and a nap.

I think we, as a society, need to do some soul searching. There is a time and place for medical intervention and believe me, i work in a medical specialty that, be definition, is all about intervention. But outside of the ER, and sometimes within the ER individuals have the power to heal themselves.

Now I know that these thoughts may be met with annoyance by my medical colleagues. I know we all try our best to practice evidence based medicine and I think we need to continue to do our best to do so BUT maybe as a culture we just need to “DO” less

Let’s empower our patients, our friends, our family to make healthier choices. Let’s make those choices together. Let’s go for a walk instead of meeting for lunch or cook a healthy meal together. Let’s not feel resentful or hurt if a friend turns down a cookie. Or let’s enjoy the cookie together and stop there. Let’s know that medication is a last resort. That supplements and vitamins can hurt us too.

Can we all just take a deep breath and do less for once??? Because

LESS is almost always MORE

Nothing is benign


4 thoughts on “Nothing is benign

  1. P.b. says:

    I agree that there are some things which can be helped but very much disagree in terms of mental health. I’m one of the lucky ones who ended up going off meds, but not everyone is so lucky. Please make an allowance for that since its not an environmental problem.


  2. Enchanted Seashells by Princess Rosebud says:

    Those symptoms are similar to what my 33 year old son presented with at ER. He was told to go home, even with the tremendous abdominal pain, it was probably gastroenteritis. However, my daughter in law called me and I told her not to let him go home. She grabbed the next surgeon she could find, showed him my son’s rapidly distending belly, and he was admitted. Later, he underwent emergency surgery to remove 24 inches of small intestine, part of his ascending colon, and a few other bits and pieces. The diagnosis? Meckel’s Diverticulum. If he had gone home, he would have died. My message is to promote more stringent advocacy and not to give up.


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