The 12 Most Read Stories of 2018

DECEMBER 30, 2018
Kevin Kunzmann
2018 year in review

In 12 months, MD Magazine® has covered nearly every aspect of healthcare trends and news. Its editors reported live from 16 major medical meetings, across 4 different time zones. They interviewed hundreds of leading clinicians and experts in the field, reported on just as many new breakthroughs in research, and delivered breaking news on FDA decisions along the way.

But the team also received help from its own audience. Dozens of clinicians submitted front page-worthy perspectives throughout the year, and even more contributed their expertise, opinions, and aspirations to serve as a leading voice of their field in content highlighting the biggest issues in US healthcare today.

As highlighted in the list below, the most read stories of 2018 vary widely in subject manner and importance. What they share, though, is they would not have become a part of such critical discussions this year if it weren’t for their audience.

MD Mag would like to thank everyone for reading, sharing, and contributing to our work in 2018. We look forward to more of the same in 2019, as well as some new ventures along the way.
 

Depression Diagnosis Accompanies ASD in 20% of Young Adults

Investigators from the University of Bristol in the UK reported that nearly one-fifth of young people with diagnosed autism spectrum disorder were also diagnosed with depression. The study, which tracked participants into their 20s, showed that young people with higher-functioning autism were at a greater risk of depression than those with more severe forms of the disorder.
 

Beating Physician Burnout

The numbers, as reported previously by the Mayo Clinic, suggest an epidemic: 45.5% physicians reported at least 1 symptom of burnout in 2011. Within 3 years, the number was 54.4%. Stressful experiences are not just consistent in medical practice—they make up most of a physician’s day, experts told MD Mag. So what institutions are actually putting forward plans to limit burnout, and what kind of practices do experts advocate for?


Empathy from Physicians More Likely to Result in Patient Information from Family

A qualitative analysis of 68 differently recorded conferences between care providers and pediatric patients’ families found that physicians acknowledge families’ emotions in response to care in about 74% of all interactions. Responding to the emotion in a more welcoming manner, investigators explained, could lead to better outcomes for both parties: healthcare practice-related empathy is associated with improved patient satisfaction and health outcomes, and reductions in physician burnout.
 

Suffering in Silence: The Scourge of Physician Suicide

The widely shared details of national physician suicide—from the commonly accepted annual rate of 400, to the resources reportedly available for those at risk—are challenged by the victims’ colleagues and loved ones. Is enough being done to curtail the driving rates of depression and burnout among doctors?


Opinion: Fellow Physicians, Please Stop Devaluing Your Medical License

An unnamed family medicine physicians expressed his frustration with the move of medical degree pursuits to online formats, as well as organizations’ embrace of nurse practitioners assuming the roles of physicians. Why, he asked, “are we willing to sign off on people practicing medicine with a mere fraction of our training?”


FDA Declares Kratom an Opioid

Early into 2018, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it had classified botanical painkiller substance kratom as an opioid. In a statement regarding the decision, commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, cited the 44 reported deaths associated with kratom at the time. “This new data adds to our body of substantial scientific evidence supporting our concerns about the safety and abuse potential of kratom,” he said at the time.
 

MD or DO: Blurring the Lines between Osteopathic and Allopathic Medicine

There is a misperception you became a DO because that’s all you could get into,” J. Ross Tanner, DO, FACP, told MD Mag, “and it’s just wrong.” That said, stigma persists in doctors of osteopathic medicine—despite the fact the differences in education have shaped modern medicine. Is there hope for both backgrounds to be considered equal in the future?


Cannabis Associated with Immune Cell Frequency Reduction in ART-Treated HIV Patients

Heavy cannabis use, as defined by the plasma quantity of THC-COOH in patients with HIV, was associated with decreased activation of T cells and inflammatory antigen-presenting cell subsets. This finding in patients with HIV suggests that cannabinoids provide a potential benefit to immunology and reduced systemic inflammation, according to the research.


To Heal and Be Happy: Choosing a Specialty and Surviving in Medical School

It’s a decision students weigh for their entire medical school education, and it’s one that dictates the entirety of their future medical practice. How do future healthcare providers go about deciding specialties? What resources are their institutions giving them? And where do we need more future doctors to go?


Guidelines for Use of IV Ketamine Infusions for Acute Pain Management Released

In a joint release by the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, the American Academy of Pain Medicine, and the American Society of Anesthesiologists, new guidelines advised on what’s become a confusing and conflicting rhetoric surrounding intravenous ketamine use for acute pain management—decisions that are particularly crucial in the midst of a national opioid crisis.


Freshman College Students Often Skip Necessary ADHD Medication

A study from researchers at Auburn University found that just barely more than half (53%) of ADHD therapies prescribed to college students are actually taken by the prescribed patient. That rate dips even lower among incoming freshmen, investigators observed, who may struggle with consistent medication adherence during a major transition to independence. Investigators also noted that ADHD medication adherence increased towards the midpoint of college semesters, then decreased through the end of terms.


What is The Pause? Taking a Moment to Address Pain and Profundity

Fittingly, the final entry in this year’s most-read list highlights the story of University of Virginia Health System’s care providers, who recently began a practice of purposefully pausing their work in silence upon the loss of a patient. The Pause—as they’ve coined the practice, which has reached other health systems—is intended to be paid respects to the life lost, and the best efforts of the care providers in their attempt to save it. It’s also an embodiment of the best stories to highlight healthcare in 2018: patient-centric, team-oriented, and norm-breaking.

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