I love being at an academic institution for many reasons. One of which is that the residents keep me on my toes -- they've read the latest stuff, they want justification for proposed workups and treatment plans, and... 

....they've got the sharpest grammar?

Yep. I can only imagine the patients watching us in the ED -- when we're not hunched over our keyboards, charting, reviewing and ordering, we can be seen gesticulating wildly about things like the placement of apostrophes in eponymous diseases.

For instance, can you pick what's proper, below?
Down Syndrome or Down's syndrome 
Legionnaire disease or Legionnaires' disease 
The rule I've always heard is: if the disease is named for a patient, it deserves an apostrophe. If the disease is named for its discoverer, the apostrophe is inappropriate. Lou Gehrig's disease was his, and the Legionnaires had theirs, but Down didn't own his syndrome. More here.

The most consistently misattributed apostrophe, I think, belongs to Crohn -- though that's slowly changing, too. We'll leave for another time the discussion of proper possessive apostrophe usage when a name ends in s (Legionnaires' or Legionnaires's), perhaps until agreement can be reached the Chicago Manual of Style and AP Style.

I just want to highlight the body of work of Tsung O. Cheng, who has been writing about eponymous diseases and the inappropriateness of apostrophes for fifteen years -- including how to handle the situation when the discoverer of the condition is also a patient.

While Dr. Cheng is Professor of Medicine and has been a prolific author, churning out 10 medline-indexed publications on this trivial topic means either medical grammar is an exciting and contentious field for potential scholarship -- or that our system of academic promotion and peer review is kind of messed up.

So, I humbly suggest: Deciding on whether to devote one's energies to adding lines on one's CV, or actually trying to contribute to the body of knowledge in medicine, shall henceforth be known as Genes' dilemma.

An inflammatory condition

I've noticed more patients complain of gout recently -- maybe it's a sign the economy is improving (gout has long been considered a disease of excess).

As I discovered while revising Rosen's new chapter on arthritis emergencies, the price of colchicine, an ancient gout treatment, has gone way up  lately -- while suggested regimens for treating gout have recently changed. These are not unrelated, and the connection is actually quite interesting. You see, colchicine was grandfathered-in as an approved therapy by the FDA at its inception in 1938. Its safety and efficacy were never formally reviewed by the FDA...

...until 2009, when URL Pharma submitted the results of their new trial to the FDA, showing comparable efficacy and somewhat improved safety to high-dose colchicine regimens, using a simple 1.2 mg dose followed by a 0.6 mg chaser an hour later.

The FDA, bound by Hatch-Waxman exclusivity, considered this a new indication for colchicine, and responded by granting 3 years of market exclusivity to URL Pharma. The price of colchicine (now called Colcrys) subsequently shot up from 9 cents a pill to $4.85 -- though if you read the drug company's site, they make it sound like they're doing patients a favor, protecting them from unapproved forms of the drug that worked well enough, for decades.

I appreciate the way the authors of this NEJM opinion piece considered this state of affairs:
It seems reasonable to expect that costly new drugs or increases in drug prices would be accompanied by a substantial benefit in disease management to be enjoyed by these patients. This standard is not met by Colcrys; in this instance, the public may bear considerable costs for a poorly executed administrative goal.
Yep. A few US Senators sent URL Pharma a strongly-worded letter this past spring, but I don't think anything came of it (you can't say the company's done anything illegal, and our society is well past the point where we can expect corporations to act in any interest but their own).

I'll just be interested to see what happens in August 2012, when the 3-year exclusivity period should end and colchicine prices return to, hopefully, to a less painful place.

A few more iOS 5 considerations, for EM

I've been using my iPad in the ED, with my white coat's sewn-in iPad-sized pocket, for some time now -- mostly for patient and resident education, and to look up dosages or rashes. Hitting up my Evernote database or Dropbox documents is also useful. Occasionally I'll use my iPhone, for its LED light (when the otoscope can't reach to where I need to see) or rarely, its camera (in compliance with my hospital and department photo policy, naturally).

Our ED's EHR isn't quite accessible enough via iPad for me to quickly check results or place orders at the bedside -- right now it's just too cumbersome. But there's been progress -- enough so that I start to wonder about the flip side: instead of reviewing iOS medical apps and pining for an optimized EHR experience on the iPad, what if there are features of the iPad that could limit the utility of medical apps?

Well, there are some product design issues, like impact resistance and bacterial colonization, that have been discussed. But the operating system, iOS 5, has some quirks, too. Some have received a lot of attention. Some are maddening in their capriciousness.

But if you're an administrator, or an app developer, working on healthcare apps for folks with iPads, there's got to at least a few special considerations on your plate that you've never had to worry about, before (beyond the whole portrait/landscape issue). I've listed a few that seem novel to me, below: