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Straight Talk MD: Health | Medicine | Healthcare Policy | Health Education | Anesthesiology

Straight Talk MD is a podcast that examines current hot-button healthcare issues from the informative and unconventional point of view of Dr. Frank Sweeny. With over twenty-five years of experience as a medical doctor, he approaches the latest and greatest topics with a skeptical mind, presenting all the information, so you can decide for yourself.
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Straight Talk MD: Health | Medicine | Healthcare Policy | Health Education | Anesthesiology
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Jun 20, 2018

The U.S. has an incoherent national drug policy. While states pass laws permitting the possession, sale, and distribution of marijuana for either medicinal or recreational purposes, Federal Law still prohibits the possession, sale and distribution of marijuana for any reason in all 50 states.

For those who are undecided between complete prohibition of marijuana and fully legalizing it, tune in. My guest, Robert MacCoun of the Stanford Law School and the co-author of Drug War Heresies: Learning from other Vices, Times, and Places, does a masterful job of analyzing the pros and the cons of marijuana legalization. And for those of you that are absolutely convinced you’re right on either side of the marijuana legalization issue, please stick around. By the end of this show, you may change your mind-in either direction.

Jun 4, 2018

While much of the public conversation regarding legalization of cannabis is about its potential medicinal properties, the vast majority of Americans currently using marijuana are admittedly not using it for medicinal purposes. Today, we move beyond the discussion of the purported medical benefits, and Dr. Kai MacDonald examines five brain-based risks of cannabis in recreational users.

May 23, 2018

In Part II of the Cannabis Conversations, mental health expert and Addictionologist, Dr. Anna Lembke discusses the use and misuse of cannabis in vulnerable populations: those with mental health disorders, those addicted to opioids, and adolescents and young adults. We talk about the increased addictive potential of today’s cannabis, the increasing use of cannabis in the treatment of opioid addiction, Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome, and much, much, more…

May 11, 2018

On today’s show, we begin our 5-part series, Cannabis Conversations, with Dr. Mary Bridgeman. In this segment, we discuss the science, the complex pharmacology, and the pharmacokinetics of the different methods of cannabis ingestion. We also tackle the legal challenges surrounding cannabis use in the acute care setting, and the potential risks when using cannabis even in states where it is legal…and much, much more!

Apr 9, 2018

A California Lawmaker has written a bill to create a government-appointed commission to price-fix physician fees with the intent to control California healthcare costs, improve quality, and increase equity in California’s healthcare system. All objective evidence and experience suggests that government price-fixing of physician fees will accomplish none of those things. Today, I have healthcare economist and President of Fulcrum Strategies, Ron Howrigon, in the studio to analyze this bill and the unintended, and potentially disastrous, consequences to California’s patients, physicians, and hospitals.

Apr 2, 2018

Today I talk with NPR’s distinguished science writer, Richard Harris, about his latest book, “Rigor Mortis: How Sloppy Science Creates Worthless Cures, Crushes Hope and Wastes Billions.” We delve into the specifics about the broken culture that exists in biomedical research: the perverse incentives to publish rubbish, the reproducibility crisis in published research, and the lousy science that is the product of flawed research design and analysis. The most disturbing symptom of this dysfunctional culture is the massive increase in retracted papers and outright fraud. Richard exposes the broken culture in biomedical research, but he also tells us what some of the leaders in that field are doing to fix it.

Mar 19, 2018

Today we discuss two hot topics in plastic surgery: the “Brazilian butt lift” procedure and why it is the most dangerous plastic surgery, and the undisputed link between breast implants and a rare type of T-Cell lymphoma. Tune in to hear my guest, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Ivan Turpin, put these issues in context to tell us who is at risk, how big the risk is, and what to do if you’re at risk.

Mar 15, 2018

Strange Daze is a bi-weekly podcast from the creators of Straight Talk MD, hosted by anesthesiologist Frank Sweeny. Each episode fuses narrative storytelling with science as our host examines a real case of a surgery or a procedure that went terribly wrong and dissects out why. Even the best doctors practicing at the best medical institutions make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes have serious consequences. And sometimes, even when you do everything right, things can still go terribly wrong. The most cynical surgeons depict anesthesiology as 99% boredom and 1% sheer terror. Strange Daze is about the 1%.

Mar 12, 2018

The care for back pain in the U.S. has been called “the poster child of medical waste.” Today I talk with Dr. Richard Deyo, author of “Watch Your Back,” about the various treatments for back pain and what the evidence shows works and what doesn’t.

Feb 19, 2018

Today I talk with Tim Caulfield about his two national bestsellers: “The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness” and “Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash.” Tim talks about what the evidence really tells us is good for our health, and deconstructs the misinformation, myths, and bogus claims coming from the pseudoscientists and some celebrities.  Tim is also the host of the popular Canadian documentary TV series: “A User’s Guide to Cheating Death.

Dec 2, 2017

Today’s show is a conversation about the Dark Side of ten amazing medical firsts. In each case, the doctor’s desire to be first, whether for fame or money, clouded their judgment and put them in direct conflict with their ethical duty as medical scientists. Bioethicist Greg Pence and I countdown these ten amazing medical firsts, and discuss the ethical questions surrounding them. Case #1 is the first human heart transplant to coincide with the 50th anniversary of that event.

Oct 31, 2017

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I have distinguished breast surgeon, Dr. Michele Carpenter, in the studio to answer your questions on breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Oct 27, 2017

Today, Dr. William Elliott III discusses his book, “The Real College Debt Crisis: How Student Borrowing Threatens Financial Well-Being and Erodes the American Dream.” Dr. Elliot has a novel prescription for an entirely new paradigm to solve the student loan debt problem, and restore equitable access to higher education and The American Dream.

Oct 18, 2017

Today’s show is a remix of a show I did last January with Ron Howrigon, before Trump took office. As Trump was running on Repeal and Replace Obamacare, we talked extensively about what that would mean for healthcare. We also discussed Ron’s new book, “Flatlining: How HealthCare could kill the US Economy” and what was likely to happen to the U.S. economy & healthcare system if we don’t make some extraordinary changes soon. I hope you enjoy the show—it’s more relevant today than it was last January.

Oct 9, 2017

Since our earlier show on this subject, a lot has happened… More than 63,600 mental health professionals have signed a petition warning that Donald Trump is suffering from a grave emotional instability that makes him incapable of safely executing his duties as the President of the United States. On October 14th, the “Duty to Warn” organization will have town hall meetings throughout the United States to make their case for why he should be removed using the 25th Amendment of the Constitution. Today, I interview the creator of that petition to explore why he (and 63,600 other mental health professionals) believe Trump is mentally unfit to serve as President and should be removed. If you listened to the earlier version of this show, there’s a lot of new material and a lot of changes in this remix. This is the “producer’s cut.”

Oct 3, 2017

Julie Lythcott-Haims discusses her NY Times Best Seller: HOW TO RAISE AN ADULT: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success.

Sep 22, 2017

In honor of the 21st anniversary of the birth of Dolly (the first cloned mammal), and the series finale of Orphan Black (a series that explores the ethics & science of human cloning), I had a far-reaching conversation about human cloning with Gregory Pence about the science, the ethics, the pop culture portrayal of cloning, and the popular misconceptions about what it would really be like to clone humans.

Sep 11, 2017

Today’s show is a collection of highlights from my apprenticeship with Master Allen Pike during residency...

Aug 21, 2017

Only 23% of America’s youth is qualified to serve in the army, while 77% is unfit to serve due to primarily physiological factors. By 2030, less than 10% of our nation’s youth will possess the physical fitness potential to be recruited for the U.S. army. Lieutenant General Mark Hertling is back in the virtual studio to discuss how our nation’s health is a national security crisis.

Aug 14, 2017

The U.S. Healthcare System is broken. Who will lead us out of the current chaos to the ideal healthcare system of the 21st century? Ultimately, the transformational changes in healthcare that will achieve the Holy Grail of universal access, high quality care, and cost reduction will be lead by ethical physician leaders. Here’s the problem- most physicians don’t have any training in leadership. Today, my guest, retired Lt. General Mark Hertling, discusses his book, his insights, and his experiences training physicians to become ethical leaders.

Aug 3, 2017

Narcissism has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., with potentially devastating consequences. Today, I interview Dr. Keith Campbell the co-author of “The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement.” We discuss the narcissism epidemic: how we got we here, the consequences, and what we can do about it.

Jul 18, 2017

There is a growing wave of anti-rationalism that has been destroying respect for expertise and undermining our institutions, preventing rational debate. It is spreading an epidemic of misinformation, which threatens to weaken the very foundations of our democracy. Tom Nichols, a Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, discusses his latest book on this subject: “The Death of Expertise and the Campaign Against Established Knowledge.” If you’re an anti-vaxxer, an Obama birther, a 9/11 Truther, or if you believe there really are aliens at Roswell, you need to listen to this show.

Jul 3, 2017

Over 55,500 mental health professionals have signed a petition warning that Donald Trump is suffering from a grave emotional instability that makes him incapable of serving safely as the President of the United States. Today, I interview the originator of that petition to find out why he believes Trump is unfit to serve, and what it could mean for the country in the worst-case scenario.

Jun 14, 2017

In my third month of residency, I administered anesthesia to my first pediatric patient. It did not go well. The case almost ended my anesthesia career, and almost ended the baby’s life. Today’s episode, “First Baby” is from The A-Files: Case #113…

May 29, 2017

In vitro fertilization is the most successful form of Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) and has helped create millions of babies for couples who have failed to become pregnant using the old-fashioned, low-tech methods. It has also created some serious ethical questions. In the largely unregulated world of infertility clinics and IVF, anything that could happen has happened. On today’s show, I have a conversation with Bioethicist, Greg Pence, on IVF and ethics.

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