Over the last decade, the number of individuals struggling with mental health issues has increased, while the number of inpatient beds for mental health patients has continually declined. The journal Psychiatric Services estimated in 2017 that more than 8 million Americans were suffering from serious psychological problems. Unfortunately, this coincides with an ongoing trend of deinstitutionalization that began over 50 years ago when state hospitals decided that many of their mentally ill inpatients would do just as well in the community.
With the recent high profile suicides in the news, many physicians are thinking about the importance of treating the whole patient, the role of empathy in medicine, and how best to observe the way a patient may be feeling emotionally in addition to how they are faring physically. Depression is dangerous and insidious, and we often feel that we must be on high alert to identify it in those we treat.
A nine-month-old baby was born with a fatal heart defect in China. Suffering from a rare condition which was extremely difficult to repair, the doctors were concerned about performing the delicate surgery. The medical team decided to build a full-sized model of the infant’s heart with a 3-D printer in order to pre-plan and practice the risky and complex surgery. Thanks in part to the accuracy the 3-D model enabled them to have, the doctors were successful and the little boy is expected to survive with few lasting effects.