Three steps toward a better healthcare system – Commercial Appeal

A friend recently asked me, “Where do we go from here?” The friend was referring to our impasse with healthcare in America. The Democrats have failed to repair the Affordable Care Act, and the Republicans have failed to repeal or replace it. With the status quo, I can understand our healthcare system providing lower quality care […]

Politics of climate change leading us away from science and into ignorance – Commercial appeal

Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma were canaries in the coal mine of what is happening to our changing climate. Let anyone who denies climate change and the human contribution to it be forewarned. No one can prove a direct cause-effect relationship between 3-to-7 degree warming to the coastal waters in the Gulf of Mexico to the […]

Empty nest need not mean empty life – Commercial appeal

Next month when our youngest child leaves for college, the biggest change may not be in his life but in ours. We are done with dropping them off at school, or giving them driving lessons, or helping them with difficult homework assignments: We will officially become “empty nesters.” My wife and I ponder sitting at […]

In the journey to adulthood there are choices to be made – Commercial Appeal

A few years ago when my oldest child was graduating from high school, I was asked to give the baccalaureate talk for the graduating class. I thought hard. What words of advice do I want to share with these young adults as they begin their journeys into adulthood? Being in the mother’s womb for nine months […]

Passing on our genes and passing on our values – Commercial Appeal

For two decades, I have waved goodbye and dropped off my children at school, and said these simple words to them, “Be good, be kind, save the world.” Last week I uttered these words and waved goodbye for the final time as the last of our three children prepared to graduate from high school. As […]

No time to be timid: Supporters of science funding must speak out – Commercial Appeal

Last week a new mother of twins in Columbus, Ohio, sent a text message to her doctor:

“Adam and I would like to introduce you to Ava Jain Cullum and Piper Jain Cullum. Their middle name was a no-brainer since we are so thankful for the huge role you had in getting them into this world… Both girls are doing fantastic. We are over the moon excited to have them in our arms.”

Walking 15,000 steps daily not practical – Commercial Appeal

A few months ago, I wrote about walking 10,000 steps per day to remain fit and healthy. Just a few weeks later, a new study was published which suggested we needed to up our goal to 15,000 steps.

Week’s events offer heavy dose of compassion for Memphis – Commercial Appeal

With war in the Middle East and missile testing in the Far East, the world is not a peaceful and compassionate place. But our day-to-day lives need not be that way. Here in Memphis, we have many opportunities to cultivate compassion.

No one can predict what another day will bring – Commercial appeal

In just the past few months, we have seen the greatest upset, the greatest comeback, and the greatest flub in modern history on the grandest of stages of politics, sports and entertainment.

Lack of heath care system hurts us – Commercial Appeal

At this time in history it may serve us well to reflect on the tortuous past, the harrowing present and the unpredictable future of health care in America. First and foremost we must recognize we do not have “a health care system” — rather our health care is delivered in an uncoordinated, misaligned and exorbitantly expensive fashion. For […]

Make walking part of daily routine for better health – Commercial Appeal

When my wife asked me to take the bucket of clean laundry upstairs to the bedroom, I did it with zest. Why? Because it was no longer a chore; rather, now it was a path towards reaching 10,000. Ten thousand what, you ask? Ten thousand steps. After the holidays, when I noticed I had gained some extra […]

Farewell to Obamacare; now what comes next? – Commercial Appeal

Last week, we said goodbye to President Barack Obama, and soon we will say goodbye to Obamacare. Eight years ago, when the tumultuous health care reform journey began, we could not have imagined the roller coaster ride it would take. The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) passing without a single Republican vote, surviving the Supreme […]

Eliminating tuberculosis is a dream within reach – Commercial Appeal

Have you ever dreamed of being a force for good, so that you can impact the lives of future generations? The good may come from whatever work you do as a teacher, a factory worker, or an engineer. I believe we all can be such a force for good. I know many who are doing it. […]

What will ‘Trumpcare’ look like? – Commercial Appeal

Obamacare died on election night, and Trumpcare was born. With a majority of his party in the House and Senate, President-elect Donald Trump has a free hand, much like Barack Obama did eight years earlier, to craft the healthcare roadmap for the nation for decades to come. What will Trump’s health plan look like? First […]

De-stress from presidential election – Commercial Appeal

If you are like us, you are exasperated with the roller-coaster ride and the vitriol of the presidential race. Many of us feel the opposing candidate is so deeply flawed that he or she represents a real danger to the country. And being generally caring and compassionate people many of us feel terrible about being […]

No reason to add pounds over holidays – Commercial Appeal

It’s that time of year. No, I am not talking about elections, the flu, or holiday shopping — but rather weight gain. The myth is that Americans gain 5 to 10 pounds during the holiday season. And while it’s entirely possible, it is perhaps not that bad. The weight gain begins with Halloween. A package […]

On normal behavior and Donald Trump – Commercial Appeal

As a doctor, I am often encountered with the dilemma of trying to tease out normal behavior from the abnormal — or “pathologic” as we call in medical lingo. For example, depression after the death of a loved one is normal, but if it leads to suicide or years-long isolation, then it is pathologic. So […]

Top health care priority should be holding down costs – Commercial Appeal

For me, the saddest part of the 2016 presidential election is not that we have two of the most disliked presidential candidates in history but that so little attention is being paid to health care. You may have noticed that health care rarely comes up in campaign speeches or in debates, and when it does […]

Presidential candidates’ medical histories not worth hoopla – Commercial Appeal

When you are 70 years old, you are bound to have some medical problems, so I am not sure why the media and the public are making a hoopla about the medical histories of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. For an elderly patient, my usual medical dictation reads “Mr. A is a 70 year old […]

Doctors must play a role in curbing opiod addiction – Commercial Appeal

Last week, thousands of my physician colleagues and I received a letter from the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy. He asked us to change our behavior in prescribing pain medicines. Around the same time, I was seeing a middle-aged man who had been admitted to the hospital for the fifth time in the same […]

Dr. Manoj Jain: Travel advisory illustrates danger of Zika virus – Commercial Appeal

For this week’s column, I had been writing about the health care reform plans of the presidential nominees until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared a “travel advisory” to the Miami Beach area due to Zika virus. Unfortunately, this advisory may be only the beginning of many more to come (and the […]

Brain scan data can predict political affiliation – Commercial Appeal

Over the past two weeks, I, like millions of Americans, watched the Republican and Democratic national conventions. As politicians, celebrities and ordinary people made compelling arguments to vote for their candidate, I felt like a ping-pong ball bouncing from right to left, left to right. But while I was listening, it wasn’t the “political science” […]

Let’s start treating gun violence like the epidemic it is – Commercial Appeal

A recent Time magazine article suggesting that we should treat “gun violence as a disease” rather than just as a crime got me thinking. I vividly recall the debate several decades ago when alcoholism was suggested to be a disease and not just a behavior problem or character flaw. This approach helped people go into […]

Yoga continues to surprise with potential health benefits – Commercial Appeal

I began one of the longest days of the year with a sun salutation — a mountain pose, the lunge, the downward dog, the plank pose, baby cobra, child’s pose, powerful pose (essentially a squat) and back -to-the-mountain pose. June 21, the day close to the summer solstice, has been proclaimed as International Yoga Day […]

Research suggests Tylenol can dampen emotional as well as physical pain – commercial appeal

Last week, when I stubbed my toe on our family room coffee table, a throbbing pain ensued. Over the next two to three days, as the bruise turned pink and then purple, the pain persisted. During the same time, I had a case of the blues. I am overstressed at work with several staff on […]

Mississippi leads nation in measles vaccination rate – Commercial Appeal

Mississippi ranks 50th in the nation in infant mortality, 50th in physical activity, 50th in heart disease deaths and 49th in overall health. We in Tennessee rank only slightly better, prompting one of my public health colleagues to remark, “Thank God for Mississippi.” Yet Mississippi does rank No. 1 on a health measure that matters […]

A peek behind the curtain into Lashondia Palmer’s journey from acute illness to health – Commercial Appeal

When I first saw Lashondia Palmer, 41, in Baptist Memorial Hospital’s intensive care unit, she looked as if she were in a torture chamber. On a special bed rotated at 180 degrees, she was facing the floor, with a dozen black belts and blue pads strapped to hold up her body. Only her dark hair […]

Measles outbreak shows consequences of vaccination myths – Commercial Appeal

Last week, Stephanie Morris, a nurse in the intensive care unit, stopped me. In the hospital, Stephanie cares for the sickest of sick patients, but at home she cares for her two children, ages 8 months and 2 years. And with the outbreak of measles, she is concerned about the younger, who has not yet […]

Unprecedented measles outbreak prompts questions – Commercial AppeaL

Amid an unprecedented outbreak of six measles cases in Shelby County, parents are asking questions about potential exposure to the infection. Dr. Manoj Jain, an infectious disease doctor who also writes a column for The CA, answers common questions about measles.   Is the measles outbreak a “big deal?” Yes, the six cases of measles […]

Beware sexual transmission of Zika virus – Commercial Appeal

Some years ago, when a biologist studying mosquito-borne viral illnesses returned from abroad to his home in Colorado, he became ill with fever, rash, joint pain and body ache. Soon his wife, too, became ill with similar symptoms. The children remained healthy. The couple tested negative for malaria and other tropical diseases, and within a […]

Understanding root causes is first step in confronting violence – Commercial Appeal

At a time when our lives are filled with news of violence, it seems appropriate to talk about peace. With the attacks in Paris, San Bernardino and Brussels fresh in our memory, with Sandy Hook, Charleston and the Wisconsin Temple shooting not yet faded from our thoughts, and with Ferguson and Chicago police incidents leaving […]

Quest for meaning makes satisfying midlife – Commercial Appeal

When he turned 45, Mitch Alsup bought a red Corvette. Mitch is a quick-talking guy with dirty blonde hair and a short, trim physique. He has a ready smile and is willing to share his story. “As a kid, I use to go down to the Chevrolet dealership and sit in a Corvette,” he recalls. […]

Let’s all do our part to reduce food waste – Commercial Appeal

I am about to place my plate in the sink, until I see a single pea left on my plate. I recall a recent article in National Geographic that stated that one-third of all the food we produce is wasted. I have a Zen moment, and think of the journey the pea made to reach […]

Yes, we can teach greater compassion – Commercial Appeal

Last week, an old friend of mine, Arun Gandhi, came to Memphis to speak at Rhodes College on “Conscious Compassion and Commitment — Ingredients of a Peaceful Society.” Arun is well suited for this: He is the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, the mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on nonviolent compassionate action. Arun asked, […]

What we need to know about the Zika virus – Commercial Appeal

Every few years it seems a new virus captures the public’s attention. Over a decade ago, it was SARS, which had people in Hong Kong wearing masks, then it was avian flu, then H1N1, then the West Nile virus, and then Ebola, and now it is Zika. We don’t know for certain why a new […]

Air quality in New Delhi sounds warning for Memphis’ future – Commercial Appeal

It’s Jan. 1, 2016, and I just landed in New Delhi, India, for a medical conference. The city of 16 million, like any other city, has large factories, miles of concrete structures, traffic gridlock and millions of cars spewing pollution. And today, like every winter day, the city is covered with a dense smog or […]

Bringing metrics and accountability to government – Commercial Appeal

At peak time, 6 p.m., the average 911 call answer time is 150 seconds. In June, 10,000 youths participated in athletic activities. In August, 244 complaints about potholes were resolved in an average of 11 days, with over 60 percent in less than 5 days. This data reflects problems and progress of our city in […]

Pharmaceutical market puts profits above all – Commercial Appeal

A grandmother develops a boil which turns out to be a difficult-to-treat staph infection (MRSA). She needs high-powered antibiotics. A middle-aged man who received a blood transfusion decades ago now has hepatitis C and needs anti-viral medicine. A young woman with HIV develops golf-ball-size lesions in her brain, has toxoplasmosis and needs anti-parasite medicine. The […]

Carter sets humble example with Habitat for Humanity work – Commercial Appeal

Last month, a house was being built in the Uptown neighborhood — not by construction workers, but by the former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter; the future Mayor of Memphis, Jim Strickland; and dozens of other volunteers. The volunteers, many of whom usually wear pin-stripe suits and sit at desks, were now wearing […]

Research shows that processed and red meats increase risk of cancer – Commercial Appeal

I am standing in line at the lunch buffet at my hospital and I have an option: a red meat steak entree or an eggplant parmesan. If each day I choose the red meat or a processed meat entree, I increase my chance of colorectal cancer by almost 20 percent. If I am standing in […]

Super sweet soda is way too accessible – Commercial Appeal

I am standing at the kitchen counter and conducting a simple demonstration. In a tall glass of carbonated water, I begin to add teaspoons of sugar. I put in one and then two teaspoons (this is what I add to my tea or coffee). Then I add three and then four teaspoons. I begin to […]

Teenage years marked by changing brains, bodies – Commercial Appeal

Pencil marks dot up the white door frame of my 16-year-old son’s room. The highest is at 5-feet-8 inches, and it reads “Dad.” Just last month one evening, my son stood tall against the door frame, and I reached above my shoulder. We posted it half-inch above the Dad mark. “It’s official now. I said. […]

On International Peace Day, commit to nonviolence in your own life – Commercial Appeal

On International Peace Day, commit to nonviolence in your own life For years, I had driven by it, admiring the architecture, but I had never visited it until this summer. The building, one of the newest and most beautiful in Washington, D.C, is on Constitution Avenue near the Lincoln and the Vietnam Veterans memorials. Completed […]

The benefits of meditation – Commerical Appeal

This summer’s Disney-Pixar movie “Inside Out” makes us think about our thinking. But, I wonder, first of all, “can we even think about our thoughts?” In fact, over the summer with campers at Lausanne Collegiate School, from junior kindergarten to seventh grade, I was teaching them how to observe their thoughts: a course in mindfulness […]

Facing consequences can help change harmful behaviors – Commercial Appeal

Sitting across the desk at the car dealership, Steven Ethridge, a soft-spoken salesman, was copying down the VIN number of our newly purchased van. “Last year, I couldn’t read the numbers,” he casually remarked. As a doctor, I was curious why a middle-age man would have vision problems. So I asked him what was wrong. […]

Making sense of 36% Blue Cross premium increase – Commercial Appeal

This week, when I read the headlines “Blue Cross proposes premium increases,” I cringed. Health care premiums are a significant burden on many American families, averaging about $1,000 a month, not counting thousands of dollars people pay in deductibles, copayments, medical supplies and medications. So I did some research. Healthcare premiums for private health plans […]

National Nurses Week honors essential partners in patient care – Commercial Appeal

Some years ago, when my father underwent bypass surgery, he was anxious, depressed and in pain as he lay in the hospital bed tied to IV catheters and tubes. Each day, his surgeon, his hospitalist, and other consultant doctors whisked in and out, asking how he was feeling and then ordering a treatment plan. A […]

Gender pay gap persists especially in health care professions – Commercial Appeal

Last Tuesday evening after dinner, with a cup of tea in hand, I read a newspaper column titled, “Women still earn a lot less than men.” This prompted me to ask my wife, “Do you think this is really true?” Then, I editorialized, “But it can’t be true in health care.” As I read and […]

2015 Gandhi-King Conference to explore stubborn racial disparities – Commercial Appeal

When I walk into an exam room and my patient is black, do I treat him differently than if he were white? I may say “no”, but the data say “yes.” When I walk into an exam room and I see a patient who has no health insurance, do I treat her differently from a […]

Meditation a useful technique for achieving mindfulness – Commercial Appeal

We sit in a conference room on red swivel chairs, quiet, motionless, eyes closed. We turn off our senses just like we turn down the house lights, switch off the television, and close the garage door at the end of the day. We become numb and detached from our bodies. For the past eight weeks, […]

What’s in an itch? – Commercial Appeal

What’s in an itch? Walking out of a patient’s room, I develop an itch. An itch around my neck, on my forehead, and in the middle of my back. I cannot help but scratch and feel some relief. My patient, a thin woman in her 50s, who works in a day care center, has a […]

Sometimes deep-seated beliefs impervious to contrary evidence – Commercial Appeal

Last week, when my beloved New England Patriots won the Super Bowl, barely any friends shared my joy. Even my wife, a New York Giants fan, retorted with “The Patriots are a bunch of cheaters,” referring not so subtly to the deflated football scandal. “They scored 45 points against the Colts in the AFC Championship, […]

Healthy Memphis: Huddle isn’t just for football – Commercial Appeal

Last week, we were awestruck watching the last three minutes of the NFL’s National Football Conference championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers. My 15-year-old son and I watched Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson score a touchdown and get a two-point conversion to take the lead. But then Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers […]

Healthy Memphis: Taking stairs means giant step toward better living – Commercial Appeal

On the first of the year, while making my rounds at the hospital, I did something I hope to continue: I took the stairs. My action was prompted by something that had happened a few days earlier. I had “sticker shock” when I stepped on my bathroom scale and saw that I had gained 6 […]

Healthy Memphis: Finding hope and happiness this holiday season – Commercial Appeal

My wife loves to watch holiday movies. Each Christmas season she watches James Stewart’s 1946 movie “It’s A Wonderful Life.” “Every year, everyone should watch ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ and ‘Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,’” she insists. She watches them because they have a happy ending. “Life is not like that,” I tell her. Life […]

Healthy Memphis: The scientifically sound benefits of kissing – Commercial Appeal

This year we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. So one evening last week I told my wife about a news story I’d heard on National Public Radio (NPR) about the microbiology of a kiss. My wife smiled. A group of researchers, I said, looked at the oral bacterial flora of 21 couples to determine how […]

Healthy Memphis: Local Rotary contributes to global TB battle – Commercial Appeal

As I write this, I am on a flight back from India after a weeklong medical mission trip for a Rotary Club Global Grant on the elimination of tuberculosis (TB). In America, we don’t worry about TB because it is one of our many medical success stories, along with smallpox and polio. But across the […]

Healthy Memphis: Donate to combat Ebola – Commercial Appeal

Last week, I casually mentioned to my wife, “I spoke with volunteers at Doctors Without Borders today, and they need help.” This was before the first case of Ebola was diagnosed on U.S. soil. Doctors Without Borders is a nonprofit organization delivering emergency medical aid worldwide. About 30,000 staff in 70 countries serve more than […]

Panhandlers shouldn’t exploit illnesses – Commercial Appeal

t’s nearly 100 degrees in the mid-August Memphis sun. At the side of the exit ramp to Winchester Road from Bill Morris Parkway East, a middle-aged man sits on a bucket. He is wearing a clean white T-shirt, gray shorts and a faded orange cap partially covering his dirty blonde hair. He holds a large […]

Unpleasant, but necessary, 50th birthday present – Commercial Appeal

For my 50th birthday my doctors give me a present: a colonoscopy. The prep instructions are daunting. “In a large pitcher pour two 32 oz. bottles of Gatorade and 8.3 oz. bottle of MiraLAX. Begin drinking every 15 min. until completed.” I start this at 4 p.m. the day before my procedure. But this is […]

Pay for performance right direction for heath care – Commercial Appeal

It’s another busy day at the hospital and as I dictate yet another consult note, I find I am repeating myself: “Patient has a history of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease …,” and then on the next patient, “heart disease, breast cancer and emphysema…,” and the next one, “dementia, diabetes, arthritis, and colon […]

Education can Empower in Fighting Ebola – Commercial Appeal

    If an ill patient, who unexpectedly has Ebola, landed in Memphis, it is likely that my partner or I would see him. We work as infectious disease doctors at the hospital closest to the airport. The Ebola patient would present with fever, nausea and vomiting, indistinguishable from a flu or a viral illness that […]

Doctors struggling over role in treating childhood obesity – Commercial Appeal

Lying in a hospital bed, my seriously obese patient can barely see her swollen and odorous right foot over her abdominal fat. The foot is soon to be amputated, the result of an untreatable infection exacerbated by diabetes and kidney failure, which developed in part because of obesity. Her two children, ages 6 and 12, […]

Sinusitis among most mistreated illnesses – Commercial Appeal

Over the past month my daughter, my aunt, my father-in-law and sister-in-law all have been taking antibiotics for a sinus or an upper respiratory infection. As the infectious disease doctor in the family, I feel partly responsible for all this. For my teenage daughter it started with a simple cold and runny nose, which she […]

Vaccine can prevent deadly flu complications – Commercial Appeal

The night before I was leaving for a three-week medical mission trip, I was called urgently to the ICU to see Rachel (name altered), a previously healthy woman in her late 40s. She had started a new job as a customer service agent. Rachel was the sickest patient I had seen in months and I […]

Closing the Medicaid doughnut hole – Commercial Appeal

A patient, a burly black man in his 40s who works as a cook, is in the hospital wincing in pain from a staph infection on his leg. He has no health insurance and earns about $15,000 a year. You would think that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, would help him. But no. […]

Complications after surgery are urgent challenges – Commercial Appeal

My uncle, Vinay Mehta, who had his second bypass surgery four days earlier, is rushed back to the ICU hooked up to monitors and multiple IV lines. A critical care doctor who wears cowboy boots and uses words sparingly is at the foot of the bed, and three nurses adjust drips, measure my uncle’s blood […]

My uncle’s medical journey – Commercial Appeal

My uncle, Vinay Mehta, lies quietly on a gurney in the hospital’s pre-post catherization room. His wife of 40 years is by his side. The TV across the room is flickering, and the EKG monitor behind him beats a regular rhythm. His cardiologist, who just performed the heart catherization, is a family friend and is […]

Healthy Memphis: Tick-borne illness may be cause of summer fever – Commercial Appeal

Karen Young, a woman whose short reddish-brown hair reminded me of Julie Andrews from the movie “Sound of Music,” tells me her fever and body aches started a few days before the 4th of July weekend. “I was hurting all over, like arthritis bothering me on a rainy day.” She is stiff, uncomfortable lying in […]

Interfaith about community, not conversion – Commercial Appeal

For a number of years in the holy month of Ramadan, I have joined my Muslim friends in the “breaking of the fast” dinner. I am not Muslim, and neither were half of the 500 Memphians gathered last month at the Esplanade Banquet Hall for the seventh annual Memphis Interfaith Dinner hosted by the Muslim […]

Overcoming our biases requires understanding how we think – Commercial Appeal

The Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman case has once again opened the racial wounds of our nation, and it reminded me of the first piece I wrote for The Washington Post six years ago. I wrote about racial disparity in the health care system, titled “How I Learned to Treat My Bias.” Last week, I […]

Guest column: Bend in health cost curve can be sustained – Commercial Appeal

We have done it. We have decreased the increase in the cost of healthcare. Let us explain. For three decades (1980–2009), the cost of healthcare has been increasing each year at an average rate of 7.4%—double the rate of inflation. However, over the past three years,  the increase in healthcare expenditures has remained at a […]

Cleanliness may not be best when it comes to pacifiers – Commercial Appeal

Years ago, when my children, who are now teenagers, were babies and they dropped a pacifier onto the floor, we rinsed it with tap water before putting it in their mouth. As a parent and as an infectious disease doctor, sterility is of utmost importance to me. While this may be lifesaving in the hospital, […]

Healthy Memphis: Besides pleasure, biking and walking trails lead to significant health benefits – Commercial Appeal

Two weekends ago, when the temperature hit the low 70s and the afternoon sun was warm, but not Memphis hot, my 13-year-old son and I put on our helmets and hopped onto our freshly serviced bikes for a ride. I had not seriously ridden a bike for a generation, and my son had stayed within […]

Denying employment could be powerful disincentive for smokers – Commercial Appeal

As I walk into the hospital each day, I notice patients and families sitting outside on benches that are surrounded by large signs prohibiting smoking on hospital grounds. For over five years, a collaborative and concerted effort by Memphis hospitals has successfully made all the hospital campuses smoke-free. Now, in other states, hospital systems like […]

Doctors need to eliminate waste from healthcare – Commercial Appeal

Thirty percent of health care spending — amounting to $750 billion a year — is wasted, according to a recent report by the Institute of Medicine. I know. As a doctor, I am party to this waste, and I think doctors can play a major role in recovering it. In a private conversation, a cardiologist […]

Data, coaching important in changing behavior in health care and life – Commercial Appeal

A few months ago, as I drove my daughter to the airport on Interstate 240 for her summer internship in Boston, I read the overhead message sign: “TN ROADWAY FATALITIES 371 — PLEASE DON’T BE NEXT” The same day, walking into my hospital’s ICU, I saw a sign stating “104 Days Without a Fall” Providing […]

We all need ‘skin’ in Medicare debate – Commercial Appeal

As I approach my 50th birthday, I worry about Medicare not being there for me when I become eligible. I have some inside knowledge about Medicare. My parents and in-laws are patients on Medicare. As a doctor, I am a provider for Medicare, and as a public health educator I am a consultant for a […]

Sikh Temple massacre shows violent thoughts, words lead to actions – Commercial Appeal

On Tuesday night, I sat with my children at the Sikh temple in Cordova and wondered what triggered Wade Michael Page to massacre six people at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisc. Though no one will know for sure, this much seems certain: Page had the seeds of white supremacism planted in his mind […]

Data show football may not be safe for kids – Commercial Appeal

Last fall, I went with my 12-year-old son to his middle school’s opening home football game. The bleachers were lined with parents, the smell of hot dogs and nachos wafted over the field, the announcer’s voice blared, and the cheerleaders jumped out of sync. The boys were dressed in shoulder, chest, thigh and kneepads covered […]

Employers have clout to reduce health costs – Commercial Appeal

I once thought that only the federal government in Washington could effect changes that would impact the cost of health care in the United States, especially with so much attention on the recent Supreme Court decision on the 2010 health care reform law. But now I think differently. Now I believe that emboldened employers in […]

Judging ‘Obamacare’ depends on your situation Put politics aside and just focus on facts – Commercial Appeal

On the day the U.S. Supreme Court delivered its historic decision on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, I was rounding on my hospital patients: a man on the ventilator with pneumonia who had private insurance, one elderly woman with abdominal pain going for gall bladder surgery on Medicare, and one middle aged obese […]

Family support makes transplants easier to take – Commercial Appeal

SUBMITTED PHOTO Juana Boyland won medals in several events in the 2002 Transplant Olympics. She underwent a lung transplant. I had not recognized the deep bonds between sisters until I saw my two daughters holding each other in a long embrace after the older one returned from college. Thinking back, I should have recognized this […]

Dr. Manoj Jain: Alert wife assists on doctors’ diagnosis – Commercial Appeal

Often patients and families think their doctor is all-knowing when it comes to the causes of their illness and the plan for treatment. Yet, uncertainty underlies each diagnosis and treatment plan. This could not have been more true in Jay Killen’s case. I know this first-hand because I am one of the doctors caring for […]

Culture change on obesity will take time – Commercial Appeal Article

“Ouch,” that hurt, I said last Sunday. It was not a reaction to the Grizzlies’ Game 7 loss to the Clippers, but Chris Peck’s scathing must-read commentary on Memphis being the national hub for obesity and our lack of concern about it. I will not pain you with many statistics like: one in three white women and […]

Cautionary tales make anti-smoking ads effective – Commercial Appeal

As I was scrolling through the newspaper online recently, an ad kept blinking on the side of my computer screen. It read: “A Tip from a Former Smoker. After a stroke from smoking, get used to losing your independence.” In the background was a middle-age woman in bed who could not move her left arm. […]

How much does it cost? Even doctor is stumped – Commercial Appeal

Rarely do people think about medical costs when there is a medical emergency or an urgent need for a test. Recently, I was in such a situation. A few days after a 22-hour international flight, the calf muscle in my right leg began to ache. If it were not for the recent flight, or if […]

Pioneering physicians’ life stories are treasures – Commerical Appeal

Last week, I hurried through the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library to attend a forum on Asian-Americans. Afterward, Wang-Ying Glasgow, the coordinator for library services, urged me not to miss the new gallery exhibit on the history of African-American doctors in Memphis. Calvin McBride (right) and family friend Rev. Kip Cole, both of Jackson, Tenn., […]

Hospitals feeling way toward greater transparency – Commercial Appeal

A few years ago at a conference, I learned about a hospital initiative that allowed family members to be present 24/7 with their loved ones, often in the most challenging of environments, such as the intensive care unit. I was hesitant to accept this practice. An ICU room is filled with lifesaving equipment — ventilators […]

What kind of sick? Symptoms, treatment differ among cold, flu, bacterial infection – Commercial Appeal

On a Friday afternoon last month, Niti Mehta, a second-grade teacher at Shady Grove Elementary, began to “shake like a leaf.” A week earlier, she had the sniffles and nasal congestion, but no fever or shivering. RICHARD ROBBINS/THE COMMERCIAL APPEAL Trembling, she went home, turned up the heat and got under the blankets. Over the […]

Test pattern: Doctors rethink paradigm for cancer screening – Commercial Appeal Article

Some years before his retirement, when my father-in-law went in for his routine physical, his doctor ordered a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test, along with a cholesterol test and blood count. My father-in-law was not having any symptoms, and no one in his family had a history of prostate cancer. His PSA came back at […]

Depression common following an operation – Commercial Appeal Articles

My patient, who was built like a linebacker, was a week out from major heart surgery. He sat in a chair in his ICU room with his head drooped down. The surgery had gone well, and his heart rate, blood pressure and respirations were all normal. When I asked him how he was doing, he […]

U.S. doctors can take cue from medical tourism – Commercial Appeal

When my father had a toothache, he saw a dentist in Boston who recommended a root canal and dental crown costing about $2,000. He decided to wait until he was in India, his native land, for holidays and had the procedure done there for $200. Extremely satisfied with the service and the price, my mother […]

No easy cure for hospital errors / Significant gains seen in specific areas – Commercial Appeal

Some years ago, a nurse paged me at 3 a.m. from the hospital because a patient of mine had spiked a high fever. Suspecting an infection, I called in antibiotics. A few hours later, the frantic nurse called to say my patient had turned red and was wheezing, likely from an allergic reaction. I rushed […]

Waging Peace – Commericial Appeal

Since my childhood, I have believed that both petty and global conflicts can be resolved through the power of nonviolence. In school, when a kid bullied me, my parents told me, “Never hit back.” Since I was puny — 90 pounds in ninth grade — this strategy was my best option. My strategy worked. A […]

Knowledge is weapon in fight against silent killers – Commercial Appeal

The first question my friends asked last week after we watched the new movie “Contagion” was: “Can this really happen?” I should know. I am an infectious disease doctor. “Not only can this happen, but it could be happening right now,” I said. This is not just my opinion but also that of the Centers […]

Knowledge is weapon in fight against silent killers – Commercial Appeal

Published: August 15, 2011 by Dr. Manoj JainWhen my patient, a middle-age working woman and mother of three, was admitted to the hospital for shortness of breath, I told her she had a choice: “You can live for three to four years, or you can live for 30 to 40 years.” Read More

Big pharma and patient care – Commercial Appeal

About a decade ago when I was newly settled into private practice in Memphis, a representative for a drug company marketing a new and powerful antibiotic stood in my office and asked whether I would like to attend a consultants’ meeting about the drug in Washington. He told me I was a “thought leader” in […]

New MyPlate guidelines only first step to better diet – Commercial Appeal

Published: June 13, 2011 by Dr. Manoj Jain My patient’s hospital breakfast plate lay inches away from his freshly cracked and wired sternum, underneath which his clotted arteries were bypassed. On one side of the plate lay brown slices of bacon; on the other side was a heap of yellow scrambled eggs, along with a […]

Flood water not likely to produce epidemics – Commercial Appeal

Published: May 16, 2011Last Monday evening, our family headed out to see the “flood of the century,” as the mighty Mississippi crested in Memphis. From afar, trunk-less treetops appeared as shrubs and tall telephone posts had become stumps. And, up-close, debris of bottles, boxes and tires rested at the water’s edge, as if the local […]

Collegians face obstacles to healthful lifestyles – Commercial Appeal

This week in the Commercial Appeal I talk about my lunch conversation with my daughter, who is a freshman in college. Hope you enjoy it: Freshman year in college is life-changing, but more often lifestyle-determining. For the first time in their lives, young adults, who were kids a few years earlier, have to make choices […]

Primary care doctors in short supply – Commercial Appeal

Published: March 06, 2011 Daniel Talley was my first patient the morning after Congress passed health care reform a year ago. Talley is a soft-spoken truck driver and for most of the past 10 years has endured two kinds of pain: needle stabs from insulin injections to control diabetes and lack of health insurance. Read More

Hospitals taking over from private practices – Commercial Appeal

Published: February 14, 2011by Dr. Manoj JainA decade and a half ago, when I moved to Memphis, I proudly hung a sign outside an office I shared with another doctor. It had my name followed by an MD. I had started my own small business as a solo practitioner in medicine. Over the years, the […]

Home remedies – Commercial Appeal

Answers to rising health costs will be found in local communities, with doctors, hospitals and patients taking new roles in the delivery of care.I took a penlight, peered into my daughter’s mouth and saw two fiery-red, cherry-sized tonsils.“My throat is killing me,” she said. Read more

Mandatory flu shots for hospital staff a no-brainer – Commercial Appeal

Published: October 18, 2010 A nurse who tracks hospital infections displayed her name tag with a green dot. “It means I have had my flu shot this year.” We were at a meeting strategizing on how to reduce hospital infections through initiatives such as hand-washing and isolating certain infected patients. She talked about how flu shots […]

Compassion can move us to break cycle of violence – Commercial Appeal

Published: October 11, 2010 I was standing at the bedside of a patient who was having shaking chills with a temperature of 103. Sweat covered his balding scalp like dew, then coalesced and rolled down his neck like raindrops. Just 20 minutes earlier, a specialist had visited him and talked with him about his dire […]

Honoring a Surgeon – Commercial Appeal

Like many people, I sometimes find myself in buildings or grand auditoriums that are named for individuals whom I know little about. But that was not the case last Thursday when I attended the inauguration of the Dr. H. Edward Garrett Sr. Auditorium at Baptist Memorial Hospital- Memphis. Fifteen years ago, as a young infectious […]

Auditorium celebrates surgeon’s life’s work – Commercial Appeal

Published: September 20, 2010 Like many people, I sometimes find myself in buildings or grand auditoriums that are named for individuals whom I know little about. But that was not the case last Thursday when I attended the inauguration of the Dr. H. Edward Garrett Sr. Auditorium at Baptist Memorial Hospital- Memphis. Read More

Viewpoint: Good doctor-patient relationship reduces lawsuits – Commercial Appreal

Published: September 06, 2010 My medical partner, a soft-spoken and caring man with more than a decade of clinical experience, has encountered patients who have threatened to sue him. So when I told him I’d received a letter from a patient’s widow who intended to sue me, he suggested I reply with a letter. Read More

Viewpoint: Threat of malpractice lawsuits means medicine is a balancing act – Commerical Appeal

Published: September 05, 2010 Some months ago at my office, my receptionist handed me a registered letter. The name on the envelope seemed familiar. “Dear Sir,” I read. “Please be advised that this letter serves as official notice that I am considering a potential claim against you in a medical malpractice claim in regard to […]

Vacation helps us recharge and refresh – Commercial Appeal

Published: August 23, 2010 “A vacation is not a luxury but a necessity; it keeps us healthy and living longer.” Try that line the next time you are negotiating vacation days with your boss. Then, quote this research to support your point.Read More

Writers, like physicians, hope to stir improvement – Commercial Appeal

Published: August 16, 2010 A few weeks ago a young woman was admitted to the hospital with a raging fever, excessive urination and back pain. I prescribed an antibiotic for a kidney infection, and over the next several days I watched her improve and go home. As a doctor, I could see the impact that […]

New Medicare appointee is no stranger to Memphis – Commerical Appeal

Published: July 19, 2010 The new director of one of the largest health insurance systems in the world has been hired. He will manage health insurance for 90 million enrollees — including many Memphians — and wield funds of more than $800 billion — about one-third of the national health care expenditure.Read More

Take steps to prevent severe harm from heat – Commercial Appeal

Published: June 28, 2010 I have fond childhood memories of my summer vacations in India playing soccer (we called it football), cricket and marbles in the relentless 100-degree heat.Often, it was under the setting sun and as kids, we were unaffected by the heat. Read More

How one handles life situations is telling – Commercial Appeal

Published: June 07, 2010 Last week, my oldest daughter graduated from high school and began her journey as a young adult. As a proud parent and the commencement speaker, I shared some life lessons with the class of 2010. Here is some of what I said: Read More

Big steps help end infant mortality – Commercial Appeal

Published: May 10, 2010 For every 1,000 babies born in Memphis, 12 die. This is double the national rate and similar to that of some developing countries like Sri Lanka and Jamaica. Read More

Examining Physicians Part 3: High or low, room to improve – Commercial Appeal

Published: April 27, 2010 I rehearsed my lines as I drove up to an office in Midtown. I was meeting with a doctor who had been rated poorly by his patients. Memphis is one of three cities where Consumers’ Checkbook, a nonprofit national consumer organization, has conducted surveys on what patients say about their doctor. […]

Examining Physicians Part 2: The good doctor: High-scoring Memphis physician practices patient-centered care – Commercial Appeal

Published: April 26, 2010 Dr. John Buttross reached over his office desk to shake my hand. He has a warm smile and a salt-and-pepper mustache. Buttross was rated one of the top primary care doctors in Memphis on a doctor-rating survey recently made public at healthymemphis.org.Read More

Examining physicians: How do you feel? Better choices, care are goals – Commercial Appeal

Published: April 25, 2010  Doctors play a unique role in our lives. They ask us to undress, and then they lay their hands on our bodies. They give us drugs that alter our minds. We trust our doctors as much as we trust our spouses — sometimes more. Read More

Close friend’s passing raises questions beyond the scientific – Commercial Appeal

Published: April 12, 2010 A close friend of mine, Tapan Thakur, died last week. As I tried to go about my routine of seeing patients or having dinner with my kids, no more than five minutes would pass before my thoughts would revert to him. Read More

Health care reform from one doctor’s perspective – Commercial Appeal

Published: March 19, 2010 I don’t want to discuss the polarizing politics of the health care reform bill, which is now a law. Rather, I want to answer one fundamental question that my patients and my peers have asked me. “What’s in it?” Read More

Pleasant thoughts can help you sleep – Commercial Appeal

Published: March 08, 2010 At 9 p.m. most nights, I put my reluctant 10-year-old son to bed. He frets and frowns, saying “I can’t sleep when I am alone,” but readily agrees when I offer to stay. Read More