Author Archive | Sam Harrington

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What Covid-19 Teaches us About A Good Death

{Update from Sam} When the coronavirus and its resultant disease, Covid-19, first appeared on the scene in New York and Washington State, alarms went off throughout each state’s respective government offices. “Would there be enough personal equipment to protect front line health care workers? Would there be enough health care workers to care for the […]

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How Safe Will You Be? The Proper Use of Gloves and Masks

As a gastroenterologist, I have had to get up close and professional (sometimes much more up close and personal than any normal person would want to be) with a host of germ-laden material. Try giving someone a fecal transplant through a colonoscope. And, during the early phase of the AIDS epidemic, gastroenterologists were frequently the […]

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The Ritual of Medicine Is Threatened By the Rise of Telemedicine

Recently I saw an article describing the tension between a patient and her oncologist when considering a follow-up appointment during this coronavirus pandemic.  On the surface it posed simple questions. Should they meet and risk cross infection? Could they accomplish their goals through telemedicine? Below the surface it underscored the value of medical ritual and […]

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Doctor and patient on ventilator in China

Should the Elderly Decline Ventilators?

This post is going to be very grim. I hope you will take it as useful information and food for thought. Despite the call for more ventilators, these breathing machines are not a panacea for elderly patients.  As Coronavirus sweeps the country, and as governors beg for federal assistance, the reality of mechanical ventilation for […]

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Drs. Amanda and Sam Harrington at Yale University Hospital

Redefining medical futility: my thoughts… and yours!

Dear loyal reader, It has been months since I last offered you a musing on medicine. Although dormant, I have not been stagnant. During those months, I have been thinking about my next writing project and here it is. Drum roll, please… “Redefining Medical Futility.” Although the through lines of At Peace; Choosing a Good […]

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Sam beard

When a Beard Is More Than a Beard

About five years ago I appeared in a Stonington, ME performance of an original musical. It was both the pinnacle and finale of my theatrical career. The Last Ferryman told the story of the controversy over the construction of the Deer Isle suspension bridge that connects the mainland with Little Deer Isle and Deer Isle. […]

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When Celebrities Vow to Beat Their Cancer

I can admire celebrities who are willing to be open about their illnesses because it brings important discussions to the fore and offers multiple teaching opportunities. But we need to change the discussion involving advanced cancer from the usual plan to beat the illness to something more nuanced. The most recent example of this is […]

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Sam’s Ups and Downs on Whole 30 and on Eliminating Toxins

If anyone says to you, “Hey, I’m on the Whole 30,” you should respond, “That sounds absolutely fascinating… but I really have to be going.” Then, run like hell. Debbie, in her endless quest to improve me, and frightened by my recent appreciation for elastic waistbands, challenged me to a second go-round with this “toxin […]

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