Saturday, December 22nd, 2012
My latest article from CNN.com:
I once had a doctor tell me, “Physicians get all the glory and all the money.” While that’s not necessarily true – nurses get quite a bit
of recognition in health care- most people don’t realize just how many people it takes to save a life. I was struck by this one night as a resident on the trauma service.
The double doors to the ER slam open. A pair of emergency medical technicians (EMT’s) wheel in a young man on a gurney. “Eighteen year old male named John, involved in head-on collision. Brief loss of consciousness. He complains of chest and abdominal pain.”
The EMT’s, two trauma nurses, and I move John over to the bed. One nurse begins cutting off his clothes with a huge pair of shears; the other connects him to the monitors. A phlebotomist draws blood from one of his arms to send to the laboratory for analysis.
A respiratory therapist applies an oxygen mask and monitors his breathing. Standing at the periphery, a social worker rifles through John’s wallet to collect contact information for his family. The head trauma surgeon Dr. Kim, the physician’s assistant (PA) and I evaluate him for injuries.
His neck and chest are x-rayed by a radiology technician. The secretary inputs medication orders into the computer so a pharmacy technician, working with the pharmacist, can prepare the appropriate medicines. We determine that John has a severe injury to his spleen, causing major internal bleeding. If we don’t bring him to the operating room and remove his spleen immediately, he will die.
Dr. Kim calls the surgery nurses to inform them of the situation. Within minutes, a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) arrives with the anesthesiologist to rush John to the OR. A perfusion specialist arranges the cell saver, a specialized device that allows John’s lost blood to
be reused. One floor down, in the hospital basement, laboratory technicians work feverishly to determine his blood type, a necessity for transfusion.
For the rest of the article, click HERE to go to CNN.com
Thursday, September 13th, 2012
As a surgical resident, I spent several months working in the local wound clinic. One day, a 60-year-old old man named John arrived, several weeks after undergoing a cardiac bypass. The surgeon had harvested a large vein from his leg for the operation.
I entered the exam room. John’s left leg was elevated on the exam table, exposing an open wound.
“Something’s wrong with my leg, doc.”
I stepped closer. Dozens of small white larvae wiggled and squirmed in his open flesh.
Maggots! Not good.
Or are they?
The use of medicinal maggots, sometimes called maggot debridement therapy, was first widely reported during the time of Napoleon. His general surgeon reportedly used maggots as a technique of cleaning soldiers’ battlefield wounds. Maggot therapy was also a common practice during the Civil War and World War I.
Scientific studies on medicinal maggot use began in the 1920s. These studies revealed that maggots helped clean dirty and necrotic wounds by feeding on the dead tissue while leaving the healthy tissue unaffected.
During the 1930s, thousands of surgeons used maggots to effectively treat chronic or infected wounds such as abscesses, burns and even bone infections. The use of maggots sharply declined in the 1940s with the introduction of penicillin. Doctors and patients could now replace the unpleasant creepy-crawlies with a simple medication.
However, with the advent of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, many physicians have returned to maggots as a viable therapeutic option.
To read the rest of the article, including what happened to John, click HERE.
Sunday, August 12th, 2012
This is an interesting segment from Sanjay Gupta and CNN where he follows a young woman who has an otoplasty, rhinoplasty, and chin augmentation to help prevent her from being bullied. It’s a sad statement on society that children feel the need to have plastic surgery in order to prevent bullying.
It’s the bullies that need to change, not the kids being bullied. I previously debated this topic on Fox News with my colleague, Dr. Jennifer Walden from Austin, TX. You can see that video streaming HERE.
Monday, May 14th, 2012
I’ve always taken my mom for granted. A lot of us do.
I never realized just how strong and selfless she is.
Then tragedy struck.
In many ways, my mother is the stereotypical Asian mom. Forty-five years ago she immigrated to the United States with my father, a physician. A classic homemaker, she spent her days raising my brother, sister, and me. In the evenings, after my dad returned home for work, she would take care of him.
Growing up, my mom was my protector. When kids would call me racist names and threaten to beat me up, it was my mother who came to my rescue. This 5’1” Korean immigrant, who spoke broken English, would stand up to the biggest bullies in my elementary school.
Several years ago I received a call from my father. My mom had exercised in the early evening and then began to feel short of breath. My dad rushed her to the emergency room. By the time they got there, she could hardly breathe.
The doctors diagnosed her with sudden onset heart failure – one of the valves of her heart had stopped functioning, causing a backup of fluid into her lungs.
My mom was literally drowning from the inside out.
To read the rest of the article, click HERE.
Monday, January 16th, 2012
My latest CNN.com blog article:
Imagine you are a highly skilled surgeon. Then imagine that your grandson gets into a terrible car accident and suffers serious internal injuries.
The injuries are so severe that he needs a physician to operate on him immediately. Even though a qualified surgeon is ready, willing and able to perform his surgery, do you ask that surgeon to step aside and operate on your grandson yourself?
This was a dilemma that a colleague of mine encountered several years ago. At this moment of crisis, he faced the choice that physicians face all the time: Do you give medical care to your family members or leave it up to other doctors?
Not wanting to put Joey’s life into another surgeon’s hands, Dr. Sanders decided to operate on his grandson himself.
Joey died several hours later in the operating room.
A 1991 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that 99% of the 465 physicians surveyed received requests from family members for medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. Eighty-three percent prescribed medications for a family member, 80% diagnosed medical illnesses, 72% performed physical examinations, 15% acted as a family member’s primary doctor, and 9% performed surgery on a family member.
Bottom line: physicians often treat family members. But does that make it right?
To read the rest of the article, click HERE!
Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
I make my living operating on people, but I don’t accept everyone.
I turn down one out of every five patients who consult me for cosmetic plastic surgery. Mostly I say no because of a patient’s unrealistic expectations.
“Dr. Youn, I’ve had five children. I’ve breastfed all of them and now my breasts droop down to my waist. I want my breasts lifted and perky. I want them to feel as firm as they did when I was 16. Oh, and no scars, please.”
Sometimes the risk of surgery simply outweighs the benefit.
“Dr. Youn, I’m 80 years old. I have end stage emphysema, two stents in my heart, and uncontrolled diabetes. I want a facelift. And could you tighten up my butt?”
And sometimes a patient’s request is just weird.
“Dr. Youn, I want liposuction on my kneecaps and surgery on my belly button so it looks exactly like Paris Hilton’s.”
To read the rest of the article, click HERE.
Wednesday, August 17th, 2011
My latest CNN.com article:
I listen to Lady Gaga in the operating room.
Except when I do a facelift.
Contrary to popular belief, the operating room is not a quiet, intense place where all you hear is the beeping of the anesthesia machine and an occasional grunt from the surgeon. Most ORs are filled with music – classical, country, pop, rock, heavy metal, even hard-core gangster rap.
Sunday, July 31st, 2011
I’ve recently been asked by CNN.com’s Health Page editors to write some blog posts for them. So far, I’ve written three articles which have all gotten quite a bit of attention. I’m proud of them, and hope you enjoy reading my thoughts! They’re written in the vein of my memoir, In Stitches. Here they are:
Thank you to CNN.com for inviting me to be a contributing writer. Keep checking back at CNN.com’s The Chart for more of my articles!