Thursday, June 04, 2015
Doctor's Perspective
Beware of information you find on the internet

By Dr. Anthony Policastro After taking the opportunity to explain the medical aspects of two of my recent illnesses, I would like to go back to my general topics. It is good to feel well and be out of the hospital. It is also good to have less personal things to write about. One of the important aspects of medicine is that it is based upon scientific investigation. In most cases that investigation involves hours of laboratory testing and tedious research. It also involves large numbers of patients. When those procedures are carefully followed, we get accurate results. There is another kind of investigation called a case report. In this instance, an unusual medical event occurs which is described in medical literature. There is little scientific basis for it. The sole purpose should be to allow others to look at it for the correct research process to begin. For example, when I was a resident, we had a young girl who was given a medication and developed a fever and rash. The question was whether she had an infection causing the symptoms or if it was a reaction to the medication. Two weeks later she was given the medication again. Within two hours her temperature was 104 degrees and she was covered in a rash. She went on to liver failure and death. I felt that it was important to include a case report in the literature. As it turned out she died from something called neuroleptic malignant syndrome which had been described four years earlier. The problem was, at the time, it was not widely known. If it was, she would never have received the second dose of the drug. Thus, there is value to both methods of reporting. In medicine, case reports are valuable as long as they are not taken out of context. This often happens outside of medicine. Sometimes I will look something up on the Internet. What I find is someone asking a question and the answers come from a bunch of lay people who want to tell their story. Sometimes the information is accurate but often it is not. People need to be wary of this kind of website. They are more likely to be misinformed than to find helpful information. Occasionally, I will read items that are sent to newspapers for publishing as letters to the editor. There are often "facts" in these. Unfortunately, those "facts" are frequently nothing more than the author's opinions. For example, someone who has never been a teacher will act like he/she knows what is being taught in schools. Someone who has no medical background will act like he/she is a medical authority. Just as with the websites, it is important to recognize that there might be little scientific method used in these instances. If you decide to act based upon this kind of misinformation, you will have no one to blame but yourself.

Hospice Lunch Bunch lecture "Vicarious Trauma: Bearing Witness to Traumatic Events" will be the topic of Delaware Hospice's Lunch Bunch Lecture with Dr. Judy Pierson on Friday, June 5 from noon to 1:30 p.m. You can't turn on your television or open a newspaper without being exposed to yet another horrifying event. Plane crashes, terrorist attacks, gruesome executions, and mass shootings enter our homes almost daily. Those who bear witness to traumatic events can also develop symptoms similar to those who have experienced the event itself.

Learn about vicarious trauma and how to reduce its impact on your life. Lunch, which is $5 per person, is from noon to 12:30 p.m. The free presentation is from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Registration is required as seating capacity is limited. Register by Thursday, June 4, by contacting Michele August at 302-746-4503 or

National Hand Therapy Week Tidewater Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Associates, P.A. announces that June 1-7 is National Hand Therapy Week. The purpose of Hand Therapy Week is to raise awareness of the hand therapy specialty. Hand therapists can help bridge the gap from the medical management of a patient's injury or condition to a successful recovery, allowing the patient to function normally in their daily lives. Hand therapists are licensed or registered occupational therapists (OT) or physical therapists (PT) who, through advanced study and experience, specialize in treating individuals with conditions affecting the hands and upper extremities. Hand therapists carry the title of Certified Hand Therapist or CHT. To obtain the CHT credential, a hand therapist must practice as an OT or PT for a minimum of five years, accumulating at least 4,000 hours of hand and upper extremity experience. Hand therapists must also pass a rigorous certification examination to demonstrate their competency. Every CHT is required to demonstrate continued professional development and competency by re-certifying every five years. In Delaware, there are 28 CHTs, of which five are PTs, one of which - Craig L. Joachimowski, PT, OCS, CHT - works for Tidewater Physical Therapy in Seaford. In Maryland there are 131 CHTs, of which only five practice on the Eastern Shore and only two of which are PTs, both of whom work for Tidewater Physical Therapy. Jennifer S. Hamilton, DPT, CHT works at the Salisbury clinic and William Hamilton, Jr., DPT, CHT works at the clinic in Ocean Pines.

Hospice launches new website Delaware Hospice has launched a new website,, designed to help people facing a serious illness and their loved ones gain resources and information. Research shows that the comprehensive approach of hospice care (physical, social, psychological, spiritual) greatly improves the quality of life for both the patient and their family. But, the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) states that nearly one-third of hospice patients die within a week of admission, therefore they are not able to fully benefit from the services hospice care provides. The site is designed for anyone facing a serious illness, their caregivers and family. Free information is provided on topics that matter most to people facing a life limiting illness in language they can understand. Beyond helping individuals understand hospice, healthcare choices, and their healthcare options, the site also supports patients and family caregivers. Site visitors can learn about free tools and services to help them plan ahead. Delaware Hospice will continue to supplement the resources found on , through a Caregivers blog, Facebook and Twitter.