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 […]

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 […]

A kiss is not just a kiss: biology vs. psychology – The Tennessean

This year, we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. So, last week, one evening, I told my wife about a news story I 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: 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 […]

Rethinking the 21-Day Quarantine for Ebola Contacts – Huffington Post

Contact Dr. Manoj Jain (mkjain@aol.com / 901-681-0778) A few weeks ago an emergency room doctor called our infectious disease physician group concerning a patient who had returned from Liberia and was having nausea and vomiting. Several of the patient’s family members had died of Ebola. As panic struck us, our decisive question was: When did he […]

Are Local Hospitals Prepared for Ebola? – Huffington Post

Contact Dr. Manoj Jain (mkjain@aol.com / 901-681-0778) Two weeks ago at our community hospital, after we concluded a nearly two-hour standing room only Ebola preparedness meeting, I practiced donning and doffing the personal protective equipment (PPE) for Ebola cases. PPE is the protective wardrobe health workers wear when examining a patient with a contagious infectious disease. […]

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 […]

To Stop Ebola Here, We Must Stop It There – Huffington Post

Last week, after dinner, as I was rinsing the dishes, I casually mentioned to my wife, “I spoke with the volunteers at Doctors Without Borders today, and they need help.” This was before the first case of Ebola was diagnosed on U.S. soil. A pregnant silence fell in the kitchen except for the clattering of […]

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 […]

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 […]

Flu complications come on fast – Vaccine can save time, money, lives – Tennessean

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

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 […]

Obamacare’s Upheaval of the Insurance Market – Huffington Post

Some years ago, driving through an end of town where pawn shops and boarded up homes are common, I saw a small placard sign nailed on a telephone pole. “Buy Health Insurance,” it touted with premiums as low as $25 a month. I was tempted. 2013-11-16-images1.jpeg Health insurance, for me and for most Americans, is […]

Challenges for Sebelius and Obamacare – Huffington Post

Last Friday, I was among a dozen people who sat privately to talk about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka Obamacare, with the embattled Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius. Dressed in a light green blazer, sitting alongside Memphis Mayor AC Wharton and Congressman Steve Cohen, who had nudged her to visit Memphis, Secretary […]

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. […]

Doctor’s Advice: Get Health Insurance – Huffington Post

Standing in the dimly-lit cave-like radiology reading room, I was looking at a CT scan which was done in the emergency room on a man in his 40s who had a testicular mass — likely a cancer — which had spread through out his body. It wasn’t that the man did not know the mass […]

What should doctors do to combat childhood obesity? – Washington Post

Lying in a hospital bed, my seriously obese patient could barely see her swollen and odorous right foot over her abdominal fat. The foot was 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, hovered […]

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 […]

Decline in Cost of Health Care in America – Huffington Post

We have done it. We have decreased the increase in the cost of health care. Let us explain. For three decades (1980-2009), the cost of health care has been increasing each year at an average rate of 7.4 percent — double the rate of inflation. [1] However, over the past three years, the increase in […]

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 […]

Memories of Boston Marathon – Huffington Post

I know Boston and the Boston Marathon well. I lived for 20 years in Needham and Wellesley, the western suburbs of Boston, the halfway mark of the 26-mile race, from where I have watched the marathon in route. Many times I picnicked at Hopkinton State Park near where the marathon starts, and many times I […]

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 […]

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s Detachment Similar To That Of Eastern Sages – Huffington Post

A few weeks ago, as I watched the white helicopter rise above St. Peter’s Basilica and carry the pontiff emeritus to a life of seclusion, I was reminded of Hindu and Jain saints who withdraw from the world and live a renounced life. With his last words on March 1, “I am no longer the […]

Letters – Menstrual Shame and Superstitions in India – The New York Times

“The Taboo of Menstruation,” by Rose George (Op-Ed, Dec. 29), sheds a welcome light on the unfortunate effects of menstrual superstitions and ignorance in parts of India. Unfortunately, similar taboos with similar debilitating outcomes exist in other regions saddled with the kinds of anti-women prejudices from which such practices are derived. And lest those of […]

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 […]

LETTERS : In Search of Political Champions for the Poor – New York Times

To the Editor: Re “Cutting the Deficit, With Compassion” (Economic View, Sept. 9), in which Christina R. Romer suggested reducing the federal budgetdeficit “in a way that does as little harm as possible to people, jobs and economic opportunity.” Sadly in this election year, political speeches haven’t put much emphasis on compassion and the poor. The Republicans are […]

Medicare Control of Cost – Huffington Post

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. […]

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 […]

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 […]

When terminally ill patients ask how long they have, doctors find it hard to say – Washington Post

In January, when my close friend’s lymph node biopsy came back as a rare form of T-cell lymphoma, I scoured the scientific literature. What was his prognosis? He was 56, a little overweight but otherwise healthy. He had helped us move into our home more than a decade ago, and I was like an uncle […]

False positives show need to adjust expectations for cancer screening tests – Washington Post

Several years ago, during an annual mammogram, my wife, who is in her 40s, was told a mass had been found in one of her breasts. Anxious and uncertain, she had a biopsy, and we braced for the worst. My father-in-law, when in his 50s, went through a similarly harrowing experience when a prostate specific […]

Accepting death is difficult for patients and doctors, but it needs to be done – Washington Post

My 64-year-old patient with terminal cancer and less than six months to live wanted to go to Oregon. He was contemplating assisted suicide, which is legal there. “My life has been long and good,” he said. “I believe it is my right. I want the ability to say it’s too much, I can’t do it […]

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 […]

LETTERS TO THE INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE Following the Jain Tradition – New York Times

Regarding Aidan Foster-Carter’s “To Catch a Roach” (Meanwhile, Sept. 27): Last Saturday night, coming home from a party, we found a roach, a spider and an ant in our kitchen. Gently, I got the roach to climb on to the bristle part of the broom; my wife captured the spider in a cup, and our […]

Intensive care units grow more friendly to patients’ families at some hospitals – Washington Post

Not long ago, when my father was about to undergo a heart procedure, I hinted to the cardiologist, a colleague, that I wanted to be there, too, not just to offer comfort but also to be present for the play-by-play that would lead to a critical decision: whether to open his blocked arteries 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 […]

Doctors often struggle to show compassion while dealing with patients – Washington Post

I was standing at my patient’s bedside. Mike Venata was having chills with a temperature of 103. Sweat covered his balding scalp like dew, then coalesced and rolled down past his staring eyes. Just 20 minutes earlier, a specialist had informed him that he had metastatic pancreatic cancer and could expect to live less than six […]

Medical tourism draws growing numbers of Americans to seek health care abroad

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 […]

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

The world is flatter and fatter – Shelby Sun

The obesity pandemic – slowly and silently – is killing more people in the world than the bird flu may ever kill. In United States alone, an estimated 300,000 individuals die annually from obesity and its complications such as diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer. According to the World Health Organization, globally, there are over […]

Norfleet Forum- Focuses on Diabetes and Obesity – Shelby Sun

For several months I have been on the planning committee for the Norfleet Forum, which is an annual meeting in Memphis of health care providers, to be held on November 13-14. The Forum has taken on the challenge to reverse the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in the greater Memphis area. “Why diabetes and obesity?” […]

Patients and Family are Part of the Healthcare Team – Shelby Sun

Few weeks ago my wife, also a physician, and I attended a medical seminar on teamwork. A Navy pilot, Steve Harden, was teaching us teamwork skills from the aviation industry so that we could reduce medical errors in the healthcare setting. The hotel ballroom was packed with 400 doctors with 10 doctors at each round […]

Giving Thanks for Health – Shelby Sun

On Thanksgiving Day we had a gathering of family and friends for a feast. Before the meal we all prayed together and then one by one-  old and young -answered the question. “What are we thankful for?” Nearly everyone said there were thankful for “our family, our food, our good fate…” Some like me had […]

Resistant Staph Infections Disguised as Spider Bites – Shelby Sun

Mrs. Scott insisted she had been bitten by a spider as she caressed a deep ulcer on her right thigh.” “Did you see the spider?” I asked. “No, but it looks like a spider bite” she said. When we got the wound culture report back, we realized it was not a spider bite, but a […]

Covering my Behind – Shelby Sun

It is not the calls from patients or the hospitals that keep doctors awake at night, but it is the risk of a potential malpractice lawsuit. Nearly 1 in 2 doctors has been sued. Nearly, 3 of 4 doctors in practice for more than 10 years have been sued. Almost all the cardiac surgeons in […]

Fast Food Needs To Change Fast – Shelby Sun

We went to McAlister’s Deli for lunch last Saturday. As my daughter and I peered at the four columns of menu items above the counter, she noticed one column entitled  “Vegetarian”. “Daddy, one-fourth of the meals are vegetarian”, she said. (She is learning fractions in her 5th grade class.) At McDonald’s, we can peer at […]

Happiness and health – are they linked? – Shelby Sun

During morning rounds at the hospital I examine Mr. Jones. He had a lung transplant a year ago, and has made more visits to the hospitals than to the supermarket. I ask myself, “Is Mr. Jones happy?” I pass the automatic double door out of the ICU onto the hospital floor that has many acute […]

Nonviolence Conference to Address Racial Disparities in Healthcare – Shelby Sun

If an African-American patient comes into a doctor’s office, does he get similar care compared with a Caucasian patient? “No,” says the Institute of Medicine. The present research “demonstrates significant variation in the rates of medical procedures by race, even when insurance status, income, age, and severity of conditions are comparable. This research indicates that […]

Addressing Obesity at a High-Tech Town Hall Meeting – Shelby Sun

An estimated 11 million people in Africa will die of famine this year. Approximately, two-thirds of all adults and one-third of all children in the United States are now overweight; of these, nearly 50% of adults and 16% of children are obese. Though, we live in an age of globalization, our world still has incredible […]