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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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Oct 28, 2019

I have Dr. Paul Offit in the virtual studio to discuss seven stories of science gone wrong. The seven discoveries were initially promoted as “stunning scientific breakthroughs” but each one turned out to have a dark side that was harmful to the human race. Some of these “stunning breakthroughs” still threaten the future of our species today.  

In the final part of the interview, I ask Paul to comment on some of today’s high-profile health controversies: e-cigarettes, Bisphenol-A, PSA screening for prostate cancer, mammograms, and Genetically Modified Food, and question if perhaps we’re repeating this same “science-gone-wrong” history. Paul presents some practical advice on how we can avoid repeating these same kinds of mistakes as we tackle our top challenges in science and medicine today.

Oct 7, 2019

Today we discuss the latest physician-fueled prescription pill epidemic. This time it’s Xanax and benzodiazepines, the class of drugs called “benzos.” As Yogi Berra once said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

Whether it’s Xanax, Ativan, Restoril, Klonapin, or Valium, the bad news is that millions of people have become addicted to benzos through inappropriate physician prescriptions. Tens of thousands more have overdosed on benzos.

Tune in to my interview with Dr. Anna Lembke, Chief of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic, and bestselling author of the expose on the prescription opioid epidemic, “Drug Dealer MD.” We discuss the other prescription drug problem and what we can do about it.

Sep 16, 2019

Every day we hear about otherwise law-abiding citizens with no history of mental illness or violence that snap and commit savage, senseless, and brutal acts of violence for seemingly trivial provocation. What caused them to snap? It turns out there are a limited number of triggers in our environment that cause the rage circuits in our brains to fire. The violent behavior is the result of the clash between our evolutionary hardwiring and these triggers in the contemporary world.

Today I have neuroscientist, R. Douglas Fields, in the virtual studio to explain the biological roots of why we snap and to reveal the nine triggers that set off the hardwired circuits in our unconscious brain that move us to rage and aggression without us even understanding the reason for it.

Aug 19, 2019

Making sure today’s teens and adolescents receive appropriate treatment for chronic pain may help them avoid becoming another statistic in the opioid addiction epidemic in the future. Today, I interview pain psychologist Dr. Rachel Zoffness, author of “The Chronic Pain and Illness Workbook for Teens.” We discuss strategies that teens with chronic pain can use to turn down the volume on their pain, break the pain cycle, and get their lives back.

Dr. Zoffness has a number of strategies and techniques that are likely to change the way you look at chronic pain, and studies have shown that these same strategies and techniques Dr. Zoffness discusses are more effective in treating chronic pain than opioid medication. If you are a teen with chronic pain, or know a teen with chronic pain, or are the parent of a teen with chronic pain, tune in and please share the episode!

Aug 12, 2019

Gene Healy, Vice President of the CATO Institute and author of “Indispensable Remedy: The Broad Scope of the Constitution’s Impeachment Power” and “The Cult of the Presidency”, is in the virtual studio to provide the analysis on the merits of the potential articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. Gene makes one thing clear: he’s not on the red team or the blue team and calls it exactly the way he sees it— no spin. Take a listen.

Jul 24, 2019

More than 1000 current or former federal prosecutors have signed a letter stating that: “The conduct of President Trump described in the Mueller Report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.”

Today, I have former federal prosecutor and CNN Legal Analyst, Jennifer Rogers, in the virtual studio to explore the multiple acts by Donald John Trump described in the Mueller Report (Volume II) that would qualify as crimes and misdemeanors.

Jul 1, 2019

On this July 4th week, there are more than 80 members of the U.S. Congress calling for an impeachment inquiry into the crimes and misdemeanors of Donald Trump. So far, the two ranking members of Congress who could make that happen today, Nancy Pelosi and Jerrold Nadler, are resisting that pathway. Today, I interview Dr. John Gartner, contributing author to the 2017 bestseller “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump” to find out why he believes that these members of Congress are correct and why the impeachment inquiry is necessary now.

Jun 17, 2019

The most cynical surgeons like to say that anesthesiology is 99% boredom and 1% sheer terror. Strange Daze is about the one-percent. This episode is about a routine anesthetic for a baby having a hernia repair that devolved into one of the most terrifying cases of my early career. For a pediatric anesthesiologist, a hernia repair in a healthy baby is about as straightforward a case as you’ll ever get. Until it becomes part of the one-percent. How can a routine anesthetic go so wrong? Truth be told, in about a million and a half different ways.

May 23, 2019

Obamacare 1.0 is terminal, but what will take its place? 2020 Democratic hopefuls are running on a platform that includes some version of universal health insurance, but only one bill, the Medicare for All Act of 2019, has more than 100 sponsors in Congress. This bill may be the most ambitious healthcare reform ever proposed in this country. If the Dems win back the Senate and the White House, Medicare for All is positioned to replace Obamacare.
Today Ron Howrigon joins me to dissect the Medicare for All bill and how it is likely to affect providers, insurance companies, and the people it serves.

May 5, 2019

On the ninth anniversary of the signing of Obamacare into law, Donald Trump is trying to overturn it in the courts.

Republicans in Congress have been trying to repeal and replace Obamacare unsuccessfully for more than seven years. Many Democrats acknowledge Obamacare is a rolling disaster and are divided between trying to “fix” it (whatever that means) and replacing it with some version of a Medicare for All plan.

Obamacare 1.0 is the status quo and neither party appears satisfied with the status quo. Today we examine where we are, how we got here, and where we’re headed in 2020.

Feb 24, 2019

The use of substances to enhance performance in sport--what we call “doping” today--is as old as sport itself.  In Episode I, we introduced the current anti-doping crisis in sport.  Today, we search for the origins of the anti-doping movement to understand how we got here.  This is Episode II in our six-part series: “The Anti-Doping Crisis in Sport.”

Nov 12, 2018

On September 20th, The World Anti-Doping Agency [WADA] made a “U-turn” and lifted the suspension on the Russian Anti-Doping Agency [RUSADA] even though they had not fulfilled the terms for their reinstatement and despite worldwide protests from its member anti-doping agencies and athletes. This has created what some insiders are calling the greatest anti-doping crisis in WADA’s history. But this is only the latest in a series of crises and scandals in the world anti-doping system that threaten their very existence. Today we begin our six-part series “The Anti-Doping Crisis in Sport” with the events leading up to the September 20th WADA decision to reinstate Russia and the background for those new to this important subject.

Oct 15, 2018

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.

Sep 3, 2018

In our haste to get a surgery started, sometimes we do things we shouldn’t do…

And sometimes, we don’t do the things we should…

In anesthesiology, either of these errors can have serious consequences…

Jul 23, 2018

On today’s show, Dr. Robert Wolff, author of the most extensive systematic reviews of cannabinoids used in medicine, analyzes the strength of the scientific evidence supporting the use of cannabis as medicine, and he separates fact from fiction in the “medical cannabis” debate.

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.

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