I have written many columns urging doctors to be honest with their patients, especially about difficult news.  Too often patients are lead on false hope therapy rides, rather than empowered with honest information so that they can cope with their disease and future. Doctors are not the only ones who can keep a painful secret. I admitted Sarah to the hospital late on Saturday night.  For over two years, she had ...

Read more...

The Commonwealth Fund just published its fourth Mirror, Mirror on the Wall study comparing the U.S. health care system with other countries, and as in all previous studies, we ranked as the absolutely worst health care system in the developed world, bar none. Yikes. The Commonwealth Fund studied many health care domains, and we didn’t rank in first place for anything. The best we managed to do is place a lackluster third ...

Read more...

Top stories in health and medicine, July 22, 2014From MedPage Today:

  1. Error: You Have No Payments from Pharma. The federal government has a word for physicians who don't have financial relationships with pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers: "Error."
  2. Do the Eyes Really Have it in Diabetes? Novartis and Google garnered much media attention last week when they announced their partnership ...

    Read more...

In my past few shifts in the emergency department, I have seen the following patients who were seeking further care after being treated by other providers. One was a child who had been seen twice at an urgent care clinic. He had a fever of 103 degrees and wasn’t eating. The first time he went to the urgent care center, he was diagnosed with an ear infection. He was started on ...

Read more...

Adverse events -- when bad things happen to patients because of what we as medical professionals do -- are a leading cause of suffering and death in the U.S. and globally.  Indeed, as I have written before, patient safety is a major issue in American health care, and one that has gotten far too little attention. Tens of thousands of Americans die needlessly because of preventable infections, medication errors, surgical ...

Read more...

For scientists and researchers who are developing new treatments for disease, Data is power.  For patients, Data can mean empowerment.  Devices that track health indicators are readily available.  These devices can track heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar and even respiratory rate and body temperature. In the Wall Street Journal, the medical applications of the Fitbit device are explored.  The Fitbit is a basic pedometer that tracks movement, steps taken, calories consumed ...

Read more...

When I was a boy, my dream was to become an airline pilot. The job seemed glamorous and exciting, and appeared to be held in high regard by all the people around me. I actually used to have a bit of an obsession with airplanes, and living so close to Heathrow Airport, had plenty of opportunities to see planes and visit the airport: both as a passenger and whenever we ...

Read more...

There is an old gag about an intensely optimistic child whose bright outlook on life is so irrepressible that when he is presented with a room full of manure for Christmas, he screams with delight, convinced that there “must be pony in there someplace.” I was reminded of that when I read the recent research report and the accompanying editorial in the Annals ...

Read more...

Next in a series. The fundamental problem in health care delivery today is a highly dysfunctional payment system that leads to higher costs, lesser quality and reduced satisfaction. It also means less time between doctor and patient with the loss of “relationship medicine.” The core problem? Price controls and regulations that reduce the trust and core interactions between doctor and patient. The patient is no one’s customer and visit times ...

Read more...

I want to commend Mark Bittman on the underlying message in his recent editorial in the New York Times, "What Causes Weight Gain." Bittman suggests that as much as we need research to "determine precisely what causes diet related chronic illnesses," we also need a program that will get this "single, simple message across: eat real food." While we have yet to isolate what in our diet is contributing to ...

Read more...

808 Pages