by Emmanuel King, MD What if you could improve patient safety, cut costs, broaden your medical knowledge and find 20% more time in your workday?  On October 1, 2010, that is just what we can expect when clinical pharmacists move from the back room to the bedside in ten general medical units at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. As we all know, medications play an intensely complex and ever-growing ...

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I walked into Room 22 to find a very interesting patient who presented to our ER with complaints of abdominal pain and associated nausea and vomiting. The patient sat on her cot with her pant legs rolled up above her knees, refusing, according to her nurse, Gwen, to put on a treatment gown. Her left leg hung in the air, her ankle crossed over the knee of her right leg. Her ...

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We all hate it when the cable company tells us that the technician will be at our house sometime between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Fantastic! Going to the pediatrician's office can be the same way. Your appointment may be at 9 a.m. but you may not get out of the office until noon. Unfortunately, this is the nature of running a medical practice. What should take ten minutes for one reason or another ...

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An excerpt from Why Some Things Should Not Be for Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets. by Debra Satz

Sometimes what critics of pregnancy contracts have in mind is not the effect of such contracts on the relationship between reproductive labor and a woman’s sense of self, but their effect on her views (and ours) of the mother-fetus and mother-child bond.

On this view, ...

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Assumptions are ubiquitous. Neither patients nor physicians are exempt. Sometimes they are justified, other times entirely misguided. Webster’s defines "assume" as "to take as granted or true." The cliché’s have probably always existed: Doctors are greedy and paid too much, and are uncaring. Some patients believe doctors do care and that their doctor actually likes them. That’s an assumption too. Some assumptions are newer. Patients assume doctors will substitute their prescription ...

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Every time you subject the patient to an invasive procedure you take the risk of causing complication. I have done hundreds if not thousands of procedures which makes me even more aware of the risk I take every time I stick a needle or cut into the patient. We can do everything possible to enhance the safety, yet we cannot completely eradicate the risk of adverse events. With the recent progress ...

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Have you ever read what your physicians and nurses have written in your medical chart? If not, would you want to?

The OpenNotes project is a recently launched observational research study that involves 100 primary care doctors and about 25,000 patients. Lead author Dr. Tom Delbacoa, a primary care physician at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, poses the research question succinctly: “After a year, will the patients and doctors still want to continue sharing notes?”
In the study, ...

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I heard a prominent speaker talk about studies at the National Institute of Aging.  The speaker described several new large and well funded trials aimed at preventing illnesses associated with aging, such as dementia and disability.  These studies are terrific, and worthy of funding. I was disappointed, however, that little was said about funding for studies of older adults already living with dementia and disability.  Research in prevention will not help these patients.  I asked: where is the ...

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If doctors need to listen to patients to figure out what’s going on, patients need to tell doctors what’s going on.  Why is that so hard sometimes?  It’s hard to speak up when you feel rushed, but have doctors ever done other things that made it harder for me to talk to them? Sometimes doctors blame the patient Years ago I got a terrible abdominal pain.  I could only explain that it felt like ...

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The opening anecdote of the e-patient white paper tells of a patient who impersonated a doctor in 1994, to get his hands on an article about an operation he was about to have. He got busted. Two years later episode 139 of Seinfeld had something similar – Kramer impersonates a doctor to try to get Elaine’s medical record. It aired October 17, 1996. It was a turning point in American healthcare: ...

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