Clayton's writing covers strange and fascinating corners of science and health, with a focus on the therapeutic potential of illicit drugs, the intersection between climate change and human health, and the interdependency of the world around and within us. He has a medical degree from Columbia University, and is a Harvard trained emergency physician.

Clay is represented by Katie Cacouris of The Wylie Agency.

A person laying in a hospital bed.

How a Milder COVID Variant Is Creating a Health-Care Crisis

Omicron may be less dangerous on an individual level, but hospitals are still overwhelmed, with dire ripple effects.

Road sign in New Mexico.

In New Mexico, the Pandemic Rages On

As unvaccinated patients overwhelm hospitals, health-care workers are being pushed to the edge.

A nurse wearing a mask prepares a vaccine dose from a vial.

Why the COVID Vaccines Aren’t Dangerous

Many vaccine-hesitant people worry about adverse health effects. They shouldn’t.

Typewriter keys.

Market Dynamics

Clayton Dalton on being a physician and writer.

A zen garden

A Quiet Path Out of the Coronavirus Shadow

Mindfulness helped this ER doctor through a dark time. It can help us through these times.

Doctors in full PPE gear at a hospital.

This Covid wave has trapped healthcare workers in a nightmare. I see it every day

Celebrating healthcare workers as ‘heroes’ obscures the systemic failures that forced us to fill the gap.


Why a Negative Test Doesn’t Guarantee You Don’t Have the Coronavirus

We want coronavirus tests to give us the all-clear. But, in medicine, test results are clues, not answers—and no test is perfect.

Physicians treating patients in a hospital bed.

So How Deadly Is COVID-19?

We still don’t know, and it doesn’t really matter right now; it’s plenty deadly.

Refrigeration trucks are serving as temporary morgues in New York City.

The Risks of Normalizing the Coronavirus

To cope with the unimaginable, doctors are becoming numbingly familiar with mass death.

What The Pandemic Can Teach Us All About Intimacy

My Patients Are Sick And Alone

What The Pandemic Can Teach Us All About Intimacy

ER doctors transport a patient on a stretcher outside of an ambulance.

A Boston Hospital Nears Its Limits

The system is coping, but the intensity of COVID-19 has surprised even experienced doctors.

Black and white photo of outside of the hospital.

In Boston, Doctors Wait for the Deluge

Hospitals in the city are eerily quiet—emptied out in preparation for the surge in COVID-19 cases to come.

Chart of Corona virus cases on the rise.

I'm an ER doctor. Please take coronavirus seriously

Most people don’t understand exponential growth. If they did, they’d be far more frightened.

Corona virus test given at drive-through medical station.

Early Coronavirus Testing Failures Will Cost Lives

The U.S. has been slow to roll out testing, leaving communities in the dark about the spread of the virus. It was a lost opportunity to stop the virus in its tracks.

Hospital bed in a hospital corridor.

Emergency Rooms Shouldn't Be Parking Lots For Patients

Patients in hospital ERs can wait hours for inpatient beds to open up. The delays can be maddening. A solution for this long-standing problem has been elusive in the U.S., despite progress elsewhere.

A colorful drawing of a person walking through a door.

A Detox Drug Promises Miracles—If It Doesn't Kill You First

The heavy hallucinogen ibogaine is illegal in the US, but some addicts are flocking to Mexican clinics for it, hoping to be cured. A physician investigates.

A man bowing his head, while standing out in the rain.

When Temperatures Rise, So Do Health Problems

Heatstroke tends to get the most attention during extreme heat waves. But other diseases are affected by high temperatures as well.

Drawings of medical professionals are connected by several lines.

To Solve Hospital Overcrowding, Think Like a Mathematician

An operations management specialist is applying lessons from statistics to help free up hospital beds. It’s working.

A pill capsule is punctured by a hanging fish hook.

The Problem with Using the Term “Fake News” in Medicine

While misinformation can sway elections and threaten public institutions, medical falsehoods can threaten people’s health, or even their lives.

A female doctor is walking down a hallway in a hospital.

Keep Limits Intact On Medical Residents' Work Hours

Caps on shift lengths for medical residents were implemented to improve patient safety. Given the effects of sleep deprivation on emotional capacity and residents' well-being, why risk longer hours?

CT scans are displayed on computer monitors.

Are The Risks Of Drugs That Enhance Imaging Tests Overblown?

A contrast agent doesn't make you feel better or treat what's ailing you. But by making CT scans clearer, contrast might be crucial in helping your doctor make the right diagnosis.

A patient's arm is extended while blood samples are being taken.

Iron Is the New Cholesterol

Elevated iron is at the center of a web of disease stretching from cancer to diabetes.

A class of bacteria known as Clostridia, displayed up close.

Dangerous Infection Tied To Hospitals Now Becoming Common Outside Them

Infections with Clostridium difficile can be difficult to treat and life-threatening. Once a problem seen mainly in health care facilities, the infections are now occurring often in the community.

A doctor in a lab coat crossing his arms, while holding a stethoscope.

An Rx for Doctors

A new psychology of control. Every physician remembers their first bad case. Mine went like this.

A handful of medicine held by gloved hands.

Will medicine ever recover from the perverse economics of drugs?

For big pharma, the perfect patient is wealthy, permanently ill and a daily pill-popper. Will medicine ever recover?

IV bags hanging in front of a bright light.

Why Did Sterile Salt Water Become The IV Fluid Of Choice?

IV bags filled with what's called normal saline are used to treat problems ranging from vomiting to lightheadedness. But evidence for the use of saline over other intravenous options is scant.

Drawing of a person on their hands and knees with pills stacking around them.

When Opioids Make Pain Worse

For some people, something as simple as having an IV line inserted can be excruciating. An emergency room doctor noticed a strange pattern. Many of these sensitive patients were regular opioid users.

Women doing a group activity in a public place with seagulls flying overhead.

Lifestyle changes, not a magic pill, can reverse Alzheimer’s

Comprehensive lifestyle changes can reverse Alzheimer’s. What does this mean for the treatment of other chronic diseases?

Photograph of medicine in a multi-compartment plastic pill container.

There is nothing inevitable or natural about chronic disease

There is nothing inevitable or even natural about the tide of chronic disease which threatens to overwhelm modern medicine


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