What you can learn from the flu epidemic: Get vaccinated earlier The following column was published on January 11, 2013 in CNN. During the past few months, I have gently suggested to my patients that they receive the flu vaccine. Many said yes, but some declined. Today, as I look up Google's national flu trend map, I see nearly the entire country painted in an alarming red, signifying "intense" flu activity. According to ...

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Why you should avoid the temptation of drug coupons A version of this column was published on October 24th, 2012 in USA Today. As the cost of prescription drugs soar, more patients are turning to online coupons or discount cards from drug companies or promotional offers in magazines. In the past year, it is estimated that 19 million Americans whom took prescription drugs used such incentives to save money. The healthcare industry ...

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The following column was published on August 5th, 2012 in USA Today. A patient once blamed me for causing him considerable anxiety because he had to wait several weeks before receiving the results of a lab test, which I had ordered. Many patients commonly have to wait days, if not weeks, before getting lab results from their doctor. The delay can affect patients' health negatively. For instance, one study looked at women who underwent ...

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Localized prostate cancer treatment: Is surgery no longer an option?Prostate cancer is in the news again, thanks to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study looked at surgery versus observation for localized prostate cancer.  According to MedPage Today, "Neither overall mortality nor cancer-specific mortality differed significantly between men who had surgery and those who were prospectively followed. The absolute difference was less than ...

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The New York medical malpractice crisis: Whos to blame?Is this the endgame for the medical malpractice crisis? A recent cover story in the New York Times describes how some financially struggling hospitals are "going bare," meaning they are partially or completely forgoing malpractice coverage. From an economic standpoint, it's a rational thing to do.  Malpractice insurance costs are skyrocketing, forcing these hospitals into uncomfortable choices. As one administrator bluntly ...

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The Supreme Court on health reform: Everybody wins!The Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. I'll leave the detailed legal analysis  to other commentators that you'll no doubt find elsewhere. Although some may not feel this way, this is an outcome everybody should be happy with. Most important, patients should be happy.  As I wrote in the New York Times Room for Debate recently, the ACA has ...

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Robots for surgery arent ready for widespread use in hospitalsThe following column was published on June 5th, 2012 in USA Today. I recently had the opportunity to try out a surgical robot, a medical device that has excited doctors, patients and hospital marketing departments. During the demonstration, I was able to precisely manipulate the robotic arms using joysticks. The experience felt right out of a Hollywood movie, as I was ...

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Why Priscilla Chan may become the countrys most influential doctorWho has the potential to be the most influential physician of our generation? It's Priscilla Chan, who not only recently graduated from medical school, but also married Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. When I brought this up on Twitter, someone responded that it was "disappointing at the same time. I'm certain her own merits and studies would have made waves alone." But her ...

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Confused about prostate cancer screening? Make a shared decisionIn a widely anticipated move, the USPSTF officially recommended against prostate cancer screening in healthy men. Case closed, right? Hardly. The prostate cancer screening debate has been raging for the past decade. Increasing amounts of evidence show that screening does not save lives, and increase the risk of complications like impotence and urinary incontinence that stem from invasive diagnostic tests and ...

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When it comes to doctors and social media, hospitals fail miserablyWhen it comes to medicine and social media, much of the attention is negative. Doctors losing their hospital privileges because of Facebook. Or other health care workers taking pictures of patients and posting them on the web. It's no wonder that many hospitals are taking a heavy handed approach when it comes to their doctors and social media. Consider this story,
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