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Episodes

Summer Shorts #3 - Insulin Drama

7/25/2019
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Bedside Rounds is on a summer vacation! In the meantime, I'm joined by journalist Dan Weissmann of the podcast An Arm and a Leg to talk about the tawdry history of the discovery of insulin.

Duration:00:26:52

47 - The Criteria

6/23/2019
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Can we ever know what causes a chronic disease? In this episode, I’m joined again by Dr. Shoshana Herzig to finish a three-part miniseries on Bradford Hill and Doll’s attempts to prove that smoking caused lung cancer. We’ll talk about the first prospective cohort trial in history, 1960s “Fake News” from tobacco companies, public spats with the most famous statistician of the 20th century, and the development of the Bradford Hill Criteria, a guideline, however imperfect, that gives doctors...

Duration:00:50:38

46 - Cause and Effect

5/19/2019
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Does smoking cause lung cancer? How could you ever know? The second in a three-part series on causality, I’m joined by Dr. Shoshana Herzig to discuss how Austin Bradford Hill and Richard Doll set out to try and answer this question -- and along the way revolutionized the way we think about what causes disease. In this episode, we’ll talk about the first double-blinded randomized controlled trial, the long shadow of tuberculosis, and why epidemiology is beautiful. Plus, a brand new...

Duration:00:25:28

45 - The French Disease at 500

4/21/2019
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In 1495, a mysterious and deadly plague struck the city of Naples. Over the next 500 years, the medical attempts to understand and treat this new disease -- syphilis -- would mold and shape medicine in surprising ways. In this episode, Tony Breu and I will perform an historical and physiological biography of syphilis, covering the development of germ theory, epic poetry, mercury saunas, intentionally infecting patients with malaria, magic bullets, and lots and lots of experiments on poor...

Duration:01:11:07

44 - The Great Smog

3/24/2019
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What was behind the mysterious increase in lung cancer deaths at the turn of the 20th century? The first of a three-parter investigating the cigarette-smoking link and causality, this episode looks at that early debate, which largely focused on environmental pollution. Along the way, we’re going to talk about toxic vapors -- and not Miasma theory, but the actual literal Great Smog of London in 1952 that killed over 10,000 people -- as well as the birth of the case-control study, Nazi...

Duration:00:47:20

43 - The Cursed

2/17/2019
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What killed Charles II of Spain, the inbred monarch whose autopsy famously showed a heart the size of a peppercorn, a head full of water, and a bloodless body? This episode addresses that medical mystery by not only delving deep into Charles’ unfortunate past, but by exploring some of the fundamental assumptions physicians have made about the nature of disease. Along the way we’ll walk about inbreeding coefficients, postmodern philosophy, and two thousand years of anatomy and autopsy. Plus...

Duration:00:53:01

42 - The Lady with the Lamp

1/13/2019
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Florence Nightingale stands as one of the most important reformers of 19th century medicine -- a woman whose belief in the power of reason and statistical thinking would critically shape the both the fields of epidemiology and nursing. This episode discusses the fascinating story of Nightingale’s legacy -- how modern nursing was born out of the horrors of war, medical theories about poisonous air, the outsize influence of the average man, the first graph in history, and how a woman who...

Duration:00:49:46

41 - Animal Magnetism

12/16/2018
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Mesmerism has had an outsize influence on medicine, despite the rapid rise and fall of its inventor Dr. Franz Mesmer and hostility from the medical establishment. This curious story covers the healing powers of magnets, secret societies in pre-Revolutionary France, fundamental questions about what makes someone alive, and one of the most fascinating medical investigations in history led by a dream team of Benjamin Franklin, Lavoisier, and Guillotine on behalf of King Louis XVI. Plus, a...

Duration:00:54:19

40 - Phage

11/11/2018
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Bacteriophages -- viruses that target and kill bacteria -- were one of the most promising medical treatments of the early 20th century, and were used to treat all sorts of infections, from cholera to staph, and everything in between. But by the 1950s, they had all but died out in the West. This episode tells the story of the humble phage, from its discovery in the waters of the Ganges, love trysts ending in a KGB execution, and to a resurgence of this once forgotten therapy in the 21st...

Duration:00:40:31

39 - The White Plague

10/7/2018
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Tuberculosis has been humanity’s oldest and greatest killer. Starting at the turn of the nineteenth century, the White Plague was decimating entire generations in the crowded and unclean cities of Europe, North America, and across the globe. But as medical science learned more about the disease, doctors and reformers developed new ways to combat it, most notably specialized tuberculosis hospitals that sought to heal their patients with fresh air, rest, and a nutritious diet. This episode...

Duration:00:52:12

38 - Blood on the Tracks (PopMed #2)

9/9/2018
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The first population study in history was born out of a dramatic debate involving leeches, “medical vampires,” professional rivalries, murder accusations, and, of course, bloodletting, all in the backdrop of the French Revolution. The second of a multipart series on the development of population medicine, this episode contextualizes Pierre Louis’ “numerical method,” his famous trial on bloodletting, and the birth of a new way for doctors to “know”. Plus a brand new #AdamAnswers about...

Duration:00:50:04

0 - Introduction

9/9/2018
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Many podcasts start with an “Episode 0”, basically a mission statement for the podcast. Well, better late than never! This episode explores why I make Bedside Rounds, my philosophy about medical history, and a little bit about who I am and my research methods. Hopefully listeners new and old alike will find it interesting!

Duration:00:17:20

37 - Let It Bleed (PopMed #1)

8/5/2018
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For thousands of years, bloodletting was the standard of care for any number of medical conditions, but at the turn of the nineteenth century, often acrimonious debates about the practice would lead to a new method of medical knowledge. The first of a multi-part series on the birth of population medicine, this episode visits the controversies surrounding the death of George Washington and Benjamin Rush’s bleeding of Philadelphia during the 1793 yellow fever epidemic and asks the big...

Duration:00:45:36

36 - Filth Parties

7/4/2018
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The southern United States was hit by a dramatic epidemic of a mysterious disease called pellagra in the early twentieth century. This episode discusses the cultural and scientific sources of the outbreak -- from the cotton fields of the south, to the cow pastures of rural Germany, to the river basins of Uganda -- and the incredible lengths a young doctor named Joseph Goldberger went through to try and put an end to this plague. Plus, a new #AdamAnswers about the source of the name...

Duration:01:00:55

35 - Sherlock

6/3/2018
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Why do doctors love Sherlock Holmes so much? In this episode, we’ll explore this endearing, nerdy obsession with the good detective, from Holmes’ medical origins and influences, the parallels with medical reasoning, and how the Holmes stories still influence medicine to this day. Plus a new #AdamAnswers about the origin of the white coat. All this and more in Episode 35 of Bedside Rounds, a tiny podcast about fascinating stories in clinical medicine! Sources: Blumhagen DW, “The Doctor’s...

Duration:00:41:48

The Adventure of the Speckled Band by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

6/3/2018
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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle considered The Adventure of the Speckled Band to be his best Holmes story, and Adam does too. Meant to be a companion to Episode 35 (Sherlock), this is the story in its entirety. THIS IS NOT AN EPISODE! It's Adam reading for almost 50 minutes. Consider yourself forewarned!

Duration:00:42:09

34 - The Physical

5/3/2018
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The physical exam has become a ritual of the modern doctor’s appointment, with pokes, prods, and strange tools. How did this become a normal thing to do? In this episode, I’ll discuss how the physical exam went from the medieval examination of a flask of urine to basically what we have today in just a few decades in early 19th century France, and how the exam is still developing in the 21st century. Plus, a brand new #AdamAnswers about why Americans insist on using the Hermes’ Staff as a...

Duration:00:42:20

33 - Alexis and William

4/3/2018
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Alexis St. Martin and William Beaumont have one of the strangest relationships in the history of medicine -- a young French-Canadian fur trapper with a hole in his stomach from an errant shotgun blast and the American army physician who cared for him, and then made his own career by turning Alexis into a human guinea pig. Through the decades of their complicated relationship, they’d revolutionize our understanding of the physiology of the stomach, put American medicine on the map, and start...

Duration:00:39:35

32 - The Humors

3/3/2018
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The Four Humors are probably the longest-lasting idea in the history of medicine, even though they’ve been more or less completely abandoned for the past century or so. In this episode, we’ll explore how the ancient Greek idea of disease coming from imbalances in body fluids touched every aspect of medicine for two millennia, well into the modern era. And we’ll discuss how humoral explanations likely hampered adoption of the first clinical trial in history, James Lind’s famous scurvy study....

Duration:00:40:07

31 - Malariotherapy

2/2/2018
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Malariotherapy -- infecting comatose syphilis patients with malaria to cure them of the disease -- was once the cutting edge of medicine, and earned its inventor Julius Wagner-Jauregg the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology in 1927. In this episode, we’re going to talk about the fascinating story behind this remarkable treatment, from the murky beginnings of syphilis through its sordid sexual connotations, to the birth of modern psychiatry and Nazi experiments. Plus, there’s a brand new...

Duration:00:23:21