I recently watched the movie Sully. It was the first time I’d ever watched a movie on its actual release date. Knowing what a legendary actor Tom Hanks is, and what a fascinating and near-tragic story unfolded on January 15, 2009, I felt confident that my choice to venture out to the cinema on a beautiful Boston September evening, would be a good one. The movie sure didn’t disappoint. Brilliantly directed ...

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When it comes to social media, oversharing is the new norm. When #flu season comes around, everyone on Twitter becomes inundated with talk of runny noses, strangers sneezing on their morning commute bus ride, and avoidance of the airport. People update their statuses on their interactions, frustrations, struggles and even locations. When a friend is not feeling well, they may post about it on social media and get an instant ...

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As rheumatologists, we pride ourselves on spending time with our patients, listening to their problems and their family’s problems, and answering all of their questions. Whenever my husband and I run into a patient of mine on the street, they always tell him that I am the best doctor ever. In spite of these accolades, I realized recently I was guilty of doing something with a handful of my patients ...

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Upon starting medical school, I remember feeling amazed to learn just how many of my classmates had physician parents. I felt like I was in the minority, not having any family members of my own who were doctors. This made me realize: Physician parents tend to breed physician children. But why? I soon discovered that the answer may lie in the genetics of personality. The academic study of personality has grown extensively over ...

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On my last day of internal medicine residency, as I finished my senior grand rounds presentation, I “came out” to my colleagues and confessed the deep dark secret I had been hiding since medical school: I have fibromyalgia. A few jaws literally dropped, and there was an awkward silence, then polite applause. Afterwards several of my colleagues came up to talk with me privately and were offended and/or curious as to ...

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The term “big data” is a favorite mantra of health care today. Big data sets are starting to drive much of what is done in medicine including directing research, drug development, clinical pathways, insurance coverage and public opinion. The official definition of “big data” in health care is subject to interpretation by different sources. One dictionary defines big data as “data of a very large size, typically to the extent ...

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Early on a random Tuesday morning, I walked into the burn unit and found my 87-year-old patient, Mr. Gray, in septic shock. While Mr. Gray’s burn injury was small by our standards, it appeared that the sequelae of the injury might prove fatal. I called Mr. Gray’s wife to obtain consent for a vascular catheter through which I planned to begin continuous dialysis and was surprised when she declared, “No ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 68-year-old woman is evaluated for a 3-month history of gradually progressive abdominal distention. Her medical history is notable for a 20-year history of obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension. She also has had a 10-year history of elevation of serum aminotransferase levels, which was attributed to nonalcoholic fatty ...

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It was several years ago. I was a first-year internal medicine resident. Keen, tired, overworked, and still idealistic. Mr. Smith was a 45-year-old lawyer who rolled into St. Paul’s Hospital Emergency room, while our medicine team was on intake. He was a healthy appearing lawyer who noted that for the past month he had become more short of breath performing his regular exercise. Things were especially bad for him during ...

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Jim Morrison of the Doors once sang, "Petition the Lord with prayer ... You cannot petition the Lord with prayer." But we did that. We petitioned. On one side of the ICU, we had an 18-year-old girl, upper middle-class family, had everything. Beauty, brains, money, supportive parents, and she was off into this new bright world, choosing her college of choice. A simple surgery led to sepsis, severe sepsis that raged through ...

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Many of us harbor an archaic view of what health care is, so let me offer a little history. During the past century, it's changed from Healthcare 1.0 to 2.0, and now it's Healthcare 3.0. In the early twentieth century, Healthcare 1.0 was a service, though it amounted more to personal contact than effective medicine. At best, medications and procedures were hit-and-miss, so doctors relied heavily on their relationship with their ...

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You start out by working in a busy emergency department. You see patients with all sorts of complaints: abdominal pain, headaches, and chest pain. Vomiting, diarrhea, and dysuria. Ankle sprains, bug bites, and allergic reactions. Domestic violence, rape, and child abuse. You don’t ever let the stress of the job take away your humanity. You treat your patients with empathy and respect. You listen to their stories, treat their symptoms, contact the police, ...

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When Kara Tippetts, a 38-year-old mother of four, died of breast cancer last year, more than 17,000 people live-streamed her funeral. Tippetts gained national prominence through her blog, where she confronted her impending death directly and offered a refreshingly frank take on what it's like to have a terminal disease. Unfortunately, the openness Tippetts displayed is usually missing where it's needed most: hospitals. Doctors, nurses and other caregivers are often reluctant ...

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OK, I’ll admit it. I’m a doctor “I work at a hospital.” Those words had left my mouth a hundred times before, and yet on this late summer day, I paused to actually think about them. Why I was saying them, what I really meant, and what I should have said instead. I was making conversation with someone I had just met. The inevitable question, “So, what do you do?” was asked, and ...

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The Haitian doctors’ strike ended recently, and it is unclear if there are any winners. The conditions in which the striking doctors -- medical residents in Haiti’s public hospitals, to be precise -- work are appalling, and the low pay was galling, but without the doctors, hospitals shut their doors and the poor were left to take care of their own illnesses and injuries for nearly five months. At issue were ...

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Physician wellness begins in realizing our identity in medicine and society. Shamans, priest, and healers have existed in ancient times and in small and large indigenous tribes since man began to gather together in social packs. The unique role of tribal and community leaders who guarded health and wellness was understood as important for the whole of society. All doctors have degrees of empathy. We as an order select for this ...

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Patients seem to be increasingly comfortable managing their health care through digital media. Last summer, our private practice of eight retinal specialists decided to find out exactly how comfortable. From July to August, 2015, we conducted a survey of 200 of our patients during their office visit and asked them what health-care related tasks they were already doing online. Using this data, we’re starting to look at how our medical practice might ...

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It is selfish of a leader of a nation to drop dead during office. Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, died suddenly at 74, apparently from a ruptured aneurysm. His aneurysm, allegedly, had something to do with Edwina Mountbatten, the wife of Lord Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India. Shortly after Nehru’s death, Pakistan attacked India. Nehru’s replacement, Lal Bahadur Shastri, died mysteriously in Tashkent two years after Nehru’s death, ...

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We have all heard the grumblings regarding the 80-hour resident workweek.  This is due to the opinion that jobs after residency typically require hours that surpass 80 hours a week. But, why?  Why does medicine have to be this way? I have worked 100 plus hour weeks for over 20 years, and I am exhausted.  I am burned out and I can not catch up because of the sleep deprivation. This ...

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The day I met Mr. Lightfoot, he was a medical curiosity on teaching rounds, “a great example of a Sister Mary Joseph’s Nodule,” a sign of metastatic stomach cancer. Earl was lying in a hospital bed in the cancer unit of the hospital, his stomach completely distended, nauseous and vomiting, unable to eat anything. He had undergone a cycle of chemotherapy only days before. I organized Mr. Lightfoot into a problem ...

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