Sunday Surgical Scrub: May 1, 2016

“Before each and every case, a surgeon scrubs and disinfects his hands. At the same time, he or she becomes solely focused on the task at hand – preparing to navigate a complex surgical path – and ready to confront any difficulties that lie ahead. Here, on the Sunday Surgical Scrub, I bring you what I’m pondering for the week ahead.”

David Almeida MD MBA PhD

Task at hand: This week I’m thinking about how we, as humans, interact with our environment. A large study of over 2000 participants found that the average human has an attention span of 8 seconds; contrastingly, this was 12 seconds in 2000 before the smartphone revolution. For comparison, goldfish are believed to have an attention span of 9 seconds. Many will argue that our ability to multitask has improved so these 4 seconds lost may not be as significant. However, if you look at all the neuroscience literature, humans actually don’t have any ability to multitask – you can only focus on one task at a time. Although we are very good at switching between tasks, this significantly decreases our efficiency at completing those tasks. One of my favorite lifehacks to get around this issue is, I put my smartphone on airplane mode when I’m concentrating on a topic – such as right now – to avoid my overwhelming desire to switch tasks and forget that I am not in a fish bowl.

In the news: US Defense Department described the human errors that led to a strike on a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in Afghanistan last year killing 42 people. A total of 16 personnel have been punished; however, Doctors Without Borders wants the incident handled as a war crime.

On Monday May 2ndPuerto Rico will likely to default on a $422 million debt payment. On Tuesday May 3rd, Indiana will hold Democratic and Republican presidential primaries. Expect the next US jobs report, to be released on Friday May 6, to show employers added about 200,000 jobs in April (jobless rate likely to stay at 5%).

Medicine & Macula: New study shows that 10 minutes on a stationary bike – with just 1 minute of intense exertion – provides the same health benefits of 45 minutes of moderate exercise. Out of time? Here is the workout:

2 minutes warm-up –> 20 second burst –> 2 minute slow peddling –> 20 second burst –> 2 minute slow peddling –> 20 second burst –> 3 minutes cool down

Check out the open access study here:

Gratis: Recent report shows that US unused vacation time is at a 40 year high. Employees are giving up more than $52 billion in earned benefits each year. As today is the first day of May – do yourself a favor and go plan a vacation – you earned it!


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