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Archive for the ‘Cardiology -guidelines’ Category

“We have a 24/7 cath lab with an open door policy. Our cardiologist arrives at 15 minutes’ notice. Door to balloon time is less than 60-90 minutes”, 

“Great, so, you can always offer a successful treatment for STEMI”

“No, that we can never guarantee.” 

 “Oh, It Is not the answer, I  expected”

“I agree, it sounds disappointing, but. truths are less pleasing. What I am trying to say is, there are a number of factors other than the availability of a grand cath lab and agile and effortless hands, that try to reperfuse the myocardium in distress.  I agree, we do save lives occasionally in a dramatic fashion. Recently we resuscitated an almost dead man with CPR and ECMO-guided PCI. But, most times it turns out to be just a customary ritual that takes us to the legal and therapeutic  endpoint* of STEMI management”

*Both salvage & non-salvage

“I didn’t get you, Can you explain further?

See this curve and try to understand it yourself. (I would say, this is the ultimate curve to understand in the entire field of coronary care)

Can you guess what will be the outcome for C to B, or B to A ?  In the real world, a substantial number of interventions take place at an Invisible point E beyond A  Source: Gersh BJ, Stone GW, White HD, Holmes DR Jr. Pharmacological facilitation of primary percutaneous coronary intervention for acute myocardial infarction: is the slope of the curve the shape of the future? JAMA. 2005;293:979–86

Slippery slopes and edgy Interventions

At what point the patient lands up in the curve & at what point the interventional cardiologist intervenes (or does not intervene) matters the most. 

The gaps between benefit and harm can change in a few strokes of time. The reperfusion tamasha can get more curious if we realize both the slope of the curve & its absolute position are dynamic. It can shift to the right or left with reference to the patient’s Initial medications, MVo2 confounders, the quantum of collateral circulation, myocardial hypoxia threshold,  previous ischemic episodes, conditioning, etc. So, basically, we are reacting to events and trying to rush up things. Don’t worry about all this. Cardiologists have every expertise and equipment to tackle untoward events.

STEMI is not always myocardium under fire

Finally, and most importantly STEMI, though a cardiac emergency. all should not be equated with the house(myocardium) on fire analogy. It can also be a spontaneously aborting, settling, or evolving, self-extinguished controlled fire, and the myocardium may take it easy. All that it requires is some deep ischemic slumber. Don’t try to poke it with all our violent hardware at one go in the name of salvaging. What is required is proper CCU care to take care of potential arrhythmia, angina, or failure. One may create more damage if trying to dowse non-existing flames furiously, which expresses in the form of reperfusion Injury and no-reflow to the myocardium. (Which might have reperfused at leisure without experiencing the injury.)

It is worth pondering over this question.

Why does even an apparently well-timed primary PCI of IRA leave behind a significant LV dysfunction or even a  scar? This is a clear case of “successful PCI failed reperfusion syndrome”. It is better cardiology community defines successful primary PCI with reference to predischarge  LV function, not on the IRA patency and mystery endpoint called TIMI 3 flow.

Final message

Cath lab doors that are open 24/7,  with experienced cardiologists may matter little if we are double-blinded against multiple scientific and non-scientific factors that are visible as well as invisible. 

Counterpoint

How good is late PCI? Are you not aware benefits of the open artery hypothesis?

You need to learn a lot man, before posting such posts.

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An Interaction in IMCU

How is Mr. K, who was shifted from ward 102 ?

Yes sir, It was acute decompensated LV failure, Patient was in impending pulmonary edema. In fact, he developed. He is fine now,

How did he come around? He was too sick I thought.

“Just pushed 60 mg Frusemide IV, luckily he also had good BP, so with an infusion of NTG, titrated Carvedilol a little bit, he came out nicely. I guess it is Ischemic DCM”.

“Good, You have done a nice job”

“Don’t make me embarrassed sir. It is such a routine in our ER. 

To make him curious, I asked “Which drug do you think that saved him”?

“Obviously, Frusemide sir. He was frothing out. I thought he will require a ventilator. It was a matter of 20 minutes, sort of flushing out 500 ml lung fluid through the urine”.

“No, you are wrong. As a professor and cardiologist, I need to tell you this. Diuretics never save lives heart failure. 

Sir, I guess, you are not kidding. Does this statement apply to acute heart failure? We have saved 100s of lives with Frusemide,  both in acute, acute on chronic, and even in chronic cardiac failures with metolazone.

Hmmm, I agree with you my dear student, Frusemide has saved not hundreds but lakhs of lives in the past decades in all forms of heart failure. It continues to do this fabulous job even now. But, don’t say it in exams or scientific forums. It has no evidence to show survival benefits. You can’t credit a drug without evidence. Also realize, saving lives by unscientific means by a cheap generic is not something to boast upon. We need the blessings of RCTs, or Kaplans Mayer curves, or Forrest blobbograms. Unfortunately . that is the current principle of practice of medicine.

But sir, who is preventing whom, to do such studies. Why they are not comparing diuretics one to one with these modern drugs of inotropes, calcium modulators, or SGLTis, etc? 

I am not sure. My guess is, there are no good friends in the cardiac failure research community for this old warrior drug. 

Loop diuretics 

Till 1960s, toxic mercurial compunds was the only option to drain water in heart failures. The Invention of  Na+/K+ /Cl channel blocker Frusemide, ( In the thick ascending limb of the loop of Henle) is the single most important event, that changed the way we manage cardiac failure in both acute and chronic settings. Still, the current evidence creators hesitate to call it a life-saving drug,

The meteoric rise of SGLT-2 Inhibitors 

Meanwhile, a few micrometers down the hairpin bend of Henle, drugs called phlorizin are doing wonders. These Apple root barks derivatives were since been invaded by Glyflozins Industry. They are made into a powerful glycosuric drug that drags water out of the system along with glucose. This seems to be the biggest revolution in cardiac pharmacology ever since DaVinci drew the heart and Harvey made it functional. I think we need a supercomputer to count the number of papers and analyze the data from Dapa & Empaglyflosin. It is now concluded officially, as an evidence-based life saver in HF.

I asked one Gen X Pharma-geek, “How do these magic drugs perform this miracle in heart failure”? He said beamingly, It is not merely Glyco-diuresis, as you academicians think, it is some mystery action from heaven, still not decoded. What a revelation I thought.

Continuing Medical Education: Choosing the correct path is never easy!

Final message 

Loop diuretics are powerful drugs that aid the failing heart to reduce both pre and after-load. It is a fact, indiscriminate use of these drugs leads to some electrolytes and metabolic issues. But, hiding behind a hazy and shaky evidence base, and trying to ridicule these life-sustaining drugs, is the height of senselessness in cardiac failure literature.

Reference 

(There is a tug of war of evidence between benefits and risks. I guess someone will bring out the truth, which is written clearly on the walls)

1. Chris J Kapelios, Konstantinos Malliaras, Elisabeth Kaldara, Stella Vakrou, John N Nanas, Loop diuretics for chronic heart failure: a foe in disguise of a friend?, European Heart Journal – Cardiovascular Pharmacotherapy, Volume 4, Issue 1, January 2018, Pages 54–63https://doi.org/10.1093/ehjcvp/pvx020

2.Faris R, Flather M, Purcell H, Henein M, Poole-Wilson P, Coats A. Current evidence supporting the role of diuretics in heart failure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Int J Cardiol. 2002 Feb;82(2):149-58. doi: 10.1016/s0167-5273(01)00600-3. PMID: 11853901.

Postamble

It is to be noted,Eplerenone (EPHESUS trial )  & Finerinone  (FIDELIO-DKD trial) are new generation  K + sparing diuretics and mineralocorticoid antagonists may have better cardioprotection in cardiac failure.(Part of RAAS blockade)

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The Country of mine with 140 crore population, is under complete lockdown mode. We are anxiously tense in one aspect, but enjoying the free time due to the peculiar “Corona effect” on cardiac emergencies.

Unable to understand you . . . please go away

What happened to our 24/7 busy CCU ? Does it happen only in my hospital? Can’t be. Let me check it right now. I called my fellow, who has since become a leading cardiologist in the nearby town.

guidelines

I have since called many of my close contacts. In both Government and private hospitals. The pooled data were analyzed in a virtual cloud memory. I am fairly convinced, our observation was indeed true.

The following can be considered as near facts.

  • There have been at least 50% minimum dip of Overall ACS cases. It even went down to 80%reduction in a few places
  • Even UA/NSTEMI showed a significant drop.
  • There was general hesitancy to do primary PCI even if it’s technically Indicated.
  • All most all STEMI were lysed. Heparin was liberally used.
  • Many patients preferred telephonic consultations.ECGs were reported over mobile platforms
  • None of the back pains & gastric pains were admitted as atypical chest pain.
  • Most cardiologists closed down their regular OPD
  • For the first time, Govt institutions were considered worthy to refer.

Why ACS Incidence nose dived?

  1. Under recognition?
  2. Under-reported ?
  3. Low Incidence?
  4. Low rate of referral?

STEMI that goes under-recognized and unreported? The consensus was, it’s less important factor as currently, very few are unaware of the Importance of chest pain and widespread availability of emergency services 108/911

Does that mean real incidence has Indeed come down?

The global atherosclerotic burden,(the substrate for STEMI) in the society is nearly constant. Still, the incidence of ACS has declined dramatically in the lockdown period. This conveys an important message and compels a search (research)

The plaques that are waiting to rupture in the population somehow getting a reprieve. Mind you, the presence of a risky plaque in LAD alone won’t cause a STEMI. It needs a trigger. The day to day physical stress, spikes of catecholamine, emotional swings, traffic pollution etc. The only plausible explanation appears to be the vulnerable patients along with their plaques are also locked up inside its Intimo-medial home. (Armchairs and bed rests can not only treat STEMI , they can prevent it too !)

Why the incidence of NSTEMI /UA has also come down?

Again, the same factors might operate. But, more likely self-stabilizing pseudo / Low-risk ACS is a distinct possibility.

A significant chunk of UA /?CSA/suspected NSTEMI patients come from referrals by GPs.The biggest pool of cases for cath labs comes from this group of noncardiac/Atypical chest pain syndromes*. Which shows some Incidental (In)significant lesions that subsequently becomes a cardiac emergency.

Since they have reduced their consultations the numbers have quite significantly reduced.

*Chronic CAD masquerading as ACS is not a forbidden concept

Final message

We are taught some important lifetime lessons in cardiac practice by this 20 nm, lifeless RNA particles.

1. The bulk of the ACS in the society is triggered by the day to day stress of the fast and furious “Just do it” world. The mitigating effect of social lockdown on physical and emotional stress on plaque dynamics on the incidence of ACS will be a big research subject in the coming months.

2. More importantly, It has exposed the existence of one more hidden epidemic in the community “manufactured coronary emergencies” propagated by a resistant cardio tropic virus that has disseminated deep into evidence-based cardiology. Let us cleanse this virus too after finishing off the Corona.

Postamble

It’s just a crazy opinion from a scribbling, blogger. However, I am sure, It’s only a matter of time, great journals like NEJM, JAMA, and Lancet will be screaming the same truths in a more palatable evidence-based manner.

Meanwhile, I can see early signs of restlessness(withdrawal) among us waiting for early release from the lock-up and resume the customary mode of evidence-based cardiology practice.

As I complete this write up . . . .surprised to find this report from TCT MD. Similarities if found, could only be coincidental.

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Primary PCI (pPCI) is a  glorious revascularization strategy for STEMI practiced for over 2 decades  but still has not proved its perceived mettle convincingly as a large population based strategy. In the mean time, the utility value  of  thrombolysis  was systematically  (Intentionally too! )  downgraded in the minds of both academic and public mind.
Truth can’t be buried for long. Series of revelations are coming up restoring the superiority of early thrombolysis over pPCI even in PCI capable centers.
In 2013, the high Impact STREAM trial argued  for pharmacoinvasive approach within 3 hrs as it was at equipoise with a pPCI. Now, EARLY -MYO  from China vouch  for pharmaco- Invasive approach  till 6 hours. (Just published in Circulation September 2017 )
 
 I think we need to wait for some more time , for another prevailing  falsehood that need to be busted ,(Looking  out for some straight thinking new generation cardiologist to do it !)
What is that ?
Many of us have misunderstood(rather made to !)  that pharmaco Invasive has a defined therapeutic endpoint ie taming  & stenting the IRA . This is absolute ignorance  happening even in state of the art centres ,ironically this beleaguered concept is  backed by peer-reviewed papers from premier journals. The fact of the matter is , If thrombolysis is stunningly successful (Which at the least happens in 50 % ) one can stop with that , it’s also a therapeutic endpoint at least for time being .
Is coronary angiogram a baseline test like ECG ?
That’s what current cardiologists with cutting edge knowledge  seem to believe !  Do you agree ! I am sure I’m not !
 Patients with STEMI who had successful thrombolysis who had an  apparently uncomplicated course (Assessed by strict clinical ECG, ECHO criteria) need not go for coronary angiogram in the immediate future.In fact some good guidelines strongly argue for it and call it as Ischemia driven PCI ! but very few seem to respect that concept.)This will not only contain the cost and ensure the vast majority of Inappropriate (  scientific quackery) coronary plumping activity in human race.
Searching for an elusive data ! Can some one help ?
I have been searching for data , from all those major pharmaco invasive studies (Which is not being reported /shared or analysed )
How many  patients in the “success cohort” after thrombolysis  who subsequently land up with urgent PCI related complications when trying to stent an already reperfused IRA or while tackling  coexisting Innocent or non-innocent non IRA lesions ?
* Complications and adverse events  may be acceptable in patients who had failed thrombolysis or who are  unstable  but even minor adverse events are forbidden in patient with a truly successful and asymptomatic patient.
Final message
So called scientific facts have very short half life !  for the simple reason they are let loose in human domain prematurely !
Reference 

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Professional competence is defined as doing things, always in the Interest of patients. It’s generally believed small hospitals are not competent enough to treat cardiac emergencies . . .Do you agree with that ? No, Its largely a myth . Do you know there is a absolute lack of proficiency threatening to plague our country’s coronary care system. ? It’s the professional Incompetence by the space age, star hospitals (mis)managed by masters of the noble business. None (am I right ?) of this hospitals either monitor or publish the outcome of their treatment.

Backed by pseudo scientific data , amplified by unrealistic expectations of ill Informed patients , some hospitals are avoiding Initial emergency treatment of acute MI , instead they waste time ( load DAPT ofcourse !) in securing the finance for the costly Invasive procedures or refer them out of their premises if they can’t afford for it.In the ensuing emotional and financial melee many of the ill-fated patients lose vital time window of thrombolysis as well ! and carry risk of fatality or damaged myocardium.

Every stake holder in the current coronary care system simply assume the enforced modality must be far superior because they administer the most modern and costly treatment suggested by few high intensity cared clinical trials originating from west. The wisemen who run the corporate hospitals never realise medical competence and outcome is not entirely defined by science. Their primitive cognition wouldn’t allow to think beyond business equations either.

Please believe me, time and again, I have witnessed patients reaching Government hospitals after being shunned away by big (Some times even medium sized ) hospitals who boast themself only as PCI enabled care. Even if they want to lyse they stock only the Tenekteplace .

I think tragedy is a lesser word to describe the scenario , where a distressed family is trying to arrange for a Rs30,000 shot of Tenekteplace when thirty times cheaper still equally efficacious (Rs 1000 Streptokinase) is concealed from their visibility .The Govt should urgently look into instances of large private hospitals avoiding Govt insurance scheme patients even in cardiac emergencies ! To label our poor patients as unaffordable ones is a outright misnomer, rather its the rich hospitals that are “not affordable” to lose profit and treat our countrymen , in a cost effective manner is the reality !

Who is Poor ? You decide.

Two forbidden things in coronary care

1.Cajoling and manoeuvring a distressed family for a primary PCI as a routine treatment hyping its beneficial effect and underplaying the true advantages of thrombolysis in largely technical jargons is the current norm in most coronary care units.

2.Another issue is , after confused confabulations with the duty medical officer, if a rare patient family choose the option of thrombolysis , comes the next googly*. Many noble minded hospitals do not stock the low-cost and equally efficacious thrombolytic agent and offering only the costly option to the anxious families when the myocardium is on fire.

Hospitals that practice these two coronary protocols need to be shamed and labeled as “Coronary Incompetent ” In spite of having 24/7 cath labs. (Realise , they are just like any remote rural hospitals , at least the later can’t be faulted as they don’t withhold a reperfusion strategy !)

Final message

I think , mindless proliferation of cath lab based cardiac care , which follow this theme , ie “Thrombolysis incapable but PCI capable “ are biggest threat to coronary care in our country ! For the best coronary care for any country ,what we need is efficient prehospital thrombolysis team .We have conveniently forgotten the great study of CAPTIM wherein the ambulance drivers replicated the same effect of primary PCI performed by highly trained cardiologists in modern labs.

In India, primary health centers which is within few km reach of entire population can be designated as static ambulance equivalents with basic resuscitation facility . If a multipurpose health worker can be trained to lyse, with remote supervision that will accomplish 90 % of what the cathlab guys can achieve ! Selective shifting is suffice.

Postamble : Ofcourse, not doing pPCI for high risk or complicated STEMI is unscientific and we need to have proper consenting and referring frame-work for such patients.

Counter point : One of my colleagues asked me ? Why do I enjoy attacking the established scientific practices ? May be I have a problem , yes, but I think in a true medical democracy we have right to debate anything , absolute truth is a ongoing journey !

*Googly: An unplayable ball delivered to a batsman in the game of cricket.

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Critical multivessel CAD is commonly confronted by cardiologists .These patients either receive multivessel stenting, CABG, with or without optimal medical management(OMT) !

CABG is always done with intention of  complete revasularisation  for all significant lesions. Comprehensive  multivessel PCI though feasible is not practiced widely.Considering the diffuse nature of CAD no treatment is complete except probably intensive medical management.

As of now , addressing only one (or two ) critical lesions in a triple vessel disease by PCI though appear attractive and logical is considered unscientific.Guidelines are not clear in answering the issue.

multivessel-pci-ptca-courage-trial-syntax-cabg-freedom-bari-acc-aha-guidelines

In a triple vessel disease with a critical LAD lesion,  

Shall we do PCI for LAD and medical management for lesions in RCA or LCX  ?

How about this coronary wisdom  “While medical therapy can take care of less tighter lesions , only critical lesions need catheter based Intervention”

In fact, in STEMI setting we do apply this logic of  targeting one lesion (IRA) at a time. Why not in chronic coronary setting ? There are significant  pros and cons for this approach.While, most 0f us will go with the logical herd,an unique  paper by Mineok  asks us to think again(American Heart Journal, 2016-09-01, 157-165)

How do you define the completeness of revascularization? Is it not emprical ?

We know medical management has well documented advantages in chronic CAD. while multivessel stenting has its own hazards.Hence limiting the time spent within the coronary artery and reducing total stent length should be one of our important goals.

A mini quiz  . . .

How often you have left a fairly significant lesion (attending only the critical lesions )  in your practice ?

What do you think will happen to those non critical lesions  in the long run  ?

Do you believe earnestly drugs can take care of these lesions ?

Forget the science . Whats your experience and  gut feeling ? 

Do you agree , even surgeons do not always do a complete revascularisation either intentionally or for technical reasons ?

Finally ,why we are still  hesitant to call intensive medical therapy as a  “Revascularisation  equivalent”  inspite of valid proof for improved functional class, symptom relief , regression of atherosclerois , collateral preservation and improved microcirculaion.

Final message 

I would say , the science of coronary revascularisation in chronic CAD is stranded at a confused cross road even after three decades of aggressively grown interventional cardiology .At any given point of time medical  management can give a tough fight to catheter  based intervention in most stable IHD.

Hybrid therapy doesn’t always mean combination of PCI and CABG. Judicious mix of PCI and medical therapy is also  a hybrid modality that can bring CAD burden effectively in a meaningful fashion with less metal load.   If you can convert a critical triple vessel disease to non critical DVD or SVD with a single stent it should be welcomed without prejudice. 

With a section of cardiac scientists are in hot pursuit for a completely  bi0reabsorbable stents , let us adopt this “Minimalistic PCI approach” in multivessel CAD, till the time  we reach the “dream the end point” of modern coronary care , ie to  get rid of stent altogether by biological cure for atherosclerosis.

Reference

1.Mineok chang, Jung MinAhn, Nayoung  complete versus incomplete revascularization in patients with multivessel coronary artery disease treated with drug-eluting stents Kim,American Heart Journal, 2016-09-01, 157-165,

 2.Tamburino C, Angiolillo DJ, Capranzano P, et al: Complete versus incomplete revascularization in patients with multivessel disease undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention with drug-eluting stents. Catheter Cardiovasc Interv 2008; 72: pp. 448-456

3.Wu C, Dyer AM, King SB, et al: Impact of incomplete revascularization on long-term mortality after coronary stenting. Circ Cardiovasc Interv 2011; 4: pp. 413-421

4.Gao Z, Xu B, Yang YJ, et al: Long-term outcomes of complete versus incomplete revascularization after drug-eluting stent implantation in patients with multivessel coronary disease. Catheter Cardiovasc Interv 2013; 82: pp. 343-349

5.Ong ATL,Serruys PW. Complete revascularization: coronary artery bypass graft surgery versus percutaneous coronary intervention. Circulation. 2006; 114: 249255

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We all know to err is human , but most of us probably won’t agree medical mistakes , (bulk of which happen in the name of practicing state of the art of science ! ) could be the dominant theme in modern medical care !

BMJ exposes this  well known secret with the help of most authentic data from an apex scientific body CDC , Atlanta .

Reference

http://www.bmj.com/content/353/bmj.i2139#

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In this era of synthesized evidence base,  one of my  intellectually aberrant  student asked  How can we indulge in  a popular coronary procedure   with  class 1 indication backed by level C evidence  ?   (As defined by  the seemingly invincible  guideline committee  of various  International cardiology organizations .)

medical ethics silence guidelines

I told him ,

  • Institutional protocols are to be followed
  • Guidelines are to be respected
  • Recommendations are to be considered
  • Please be reminded  all of the  above can be rejected  outright !

Finally , realise  Individual  decisions based on sound scientific understanding with zero non academic intrusions  will be revered forever !

*Caution : If you  think  you haven’t  yet reached that the level of  individuality , come what may ,  you are  expected follow these  advisories  which are primarily aimed at  providing quality care and  you will be pardoned of any adversaries as well  !

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As the medical care advances  human care  has taken the back seat. It is said super specialists  read more and more about less and less ! In the  process they  fail to see the  patients  as a single biological unit  instead as collection of organs .

While  organs in turn are looked as  pile of data.Hence the  treatment they provide lack the soul !

In the prevailing circumstances , how do we ensure  modern medicine  does not interfere with  these vulnerable souls,either to live in peace or leave in peace ?

Medical Ethics

Image : Source and Courtesy of http://illuminationstudios.com

It appears doctors are not at fault . The system is  biased towards raw science .Highly trained  doctors are tied down by  both  true and pseudo  scientific Intellect .Often  times they are compelled to do some procedure or interventions  just to  justify  the  premier status of the hospital  .While few do it  to show off  their expertise or  to impress  their peers   others are simply bound by rigid and obsessive  protocols and guidelines . Few others do it  for the burning  desire  of  scientific accomplishment .

One can offer hundred reasons for doing a procedure . . . but we always struggle to justify  with a valid reason for not doing a investigation or  procedure !

In fact , the  concept of appropriateness  criteria came out with good intention .But , it had failed miserably.

The irony is  . . . we need to indulge in something to avoid something.

Example 1 If homocystiene and  hsCRP vanish from the CAD screening industry   Adiponectin and Vitamin D3 comes in with a thunderous applause like a new Hollywood movie  !

Example 2: In cath lab  for leaving alone an insignificant  coronary stenosis , we have to do  another procedure  called FFR to satisfy  scientific ego ! (I know one senior doctor , who left a 80% LAD  lesion for medical management without FFR ( with all his clinical acumen )  was ridiculed for being unscientific !)

Here is a recent perspective article NEJM has discussed  this  important issue that plague us

Why should big  Tertiary  teaching hospital  are  flooded  with super specialists  which by default shun basic human care ?

Read this article*

Super specialist tertiary care hospital NEJM

*The article I have quoted  may  not  be completely relevant here  . . . It  answers  few of the queries raised!

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