Statistics from the Pew Research Center indicate that the majority of people use the Internet to find information on health. As online resources improve and proliferate, this fraction will continue to climb higher. There is no doubt that patients see the Internet as one tool to learn about a condition, diagnose themselves, or read about the range of treatment alternatives. Patients understand that knowledge is power. So how should patients ...

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While there are worse times to sprain an ankle and chip a bone than just one week before a long­awaited trip to Venice, I couldn’t think of one as I sat in the emergency room for eight hours last fall. Venice, the place of canals and not cars; ancient bridges sans escalators. How ironic that just a few days before I was crowing to my husband over my hotel coup. A ...

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Recently a neighbor of mine was in our local hospital for several weeks undergoing treatment for MRSA and dehydration. Polly is a woman in her late seventies who is completely alert and oriented. She lives an active and independent lifestyle and is fully capable of understanding and communicating clearly with others. I asked her adult daughter how her mother’s experience had been so far. Given that this is a hospital that ...

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Before I got into medical school, while I was still in my first year of graduate school, I learned what hell was like. The hospital was a rabbit warren. Walking down the long empty beige halls fueled my hatred for hospitals.  And, of the color beige. When I had volunteered during college, I would press myself up against the wall whenever a gaggle of doctors passed by. They ruled the hospital: powerful, ...

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On October 10, 2013, the Boston Public Library held an author event featuring Dr. Sheri Fink, she of the MD/PhD braininess that appears to be in constant triage mode; she famously skipped her own medical school graduation to assist refugees on the Kosovo-Macedonia border during the war in Kosovo.  Five Days at Memorial had recently come out, and her talk that early fall evening definitely had the feel of a ...

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shutterstock_10582288 I've been volunteering in an emergency department of a Southern Californian community hospital for five years. I clean gurneys, stock shelves, provide support for RNs and EMTs and translate for Spanish-speaking patients. Since my job requires minimal intellectual effort, I’ve had considerable time to observe the staff and contemplate the inspiring work they do. I’ve watched them perform heroically with sick babies, ...

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shutterstock_89752360 I went to the doctor yesterday, my semi-annual visit, as it were. These days I see a nurse practitioner, a woman. Recently, she and the practice she is a part of moved into a renovated building, state-of-the-art, they are calling it. It almost sparkles in its newness. The practice is owned by one of the large hospital corporations in our city. See ...

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Rarely are health care professionals given the opportunity to truly ponder a crucial aspect of patient care; the truth behind what it feels like to lie in a hospital bed, vulnerable, disoriented, and stripped of every basic human dignity. I have spent over 300 days as a patient in hospitals and more than three decades in and out of doctor’s offices and testing facilities. I have a profound respect for ...

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shutterstock_182400230 It was May 13th, 2012. Mother’s Day.  My wife, Cyrena, was having an incredibly difficult pregnancy. She had pounding headaches, blurred vision, and searing pain throughout her body. As a matter of fact, she had been in and out of the hospital for the last two weeks. Our tiny daughter was only developed 23 weeks in gestation. Her due date was ...

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shutterstock_146971178 The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow. ― Thomas Paine Dear my oncologist, This year was my 11th anniversary as a breast cancer survivor. For the past 6 ...

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