When I was 17 years old, I insisted that my father, a pulmonologist, join Physicians for Social Responsibility. I had just read about the organization in my history class, and I was feeling increasingly hopeless that I would live to see my 30s if the world continued its march toward nuclear Armageddon. My father refused to even have the discussion. I’ll get to why he refused in a minute, but first, a bit of ...

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A colleague of mine was recently questioning her capabilities having lost yet another patient who had arrived nearly lifeless after being shot.  She was despondent over the nation’s overall complacency about our gun violence epidemic giving her far too many opportunities to fail or succeed as a trauma surgeon. Truthfully, neither quick, decisive action nor expert surgical skill was enough to repair that much damage. Not in the hands of any trauma surgeon. As ...

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Left to our own devices, most of us physicians try our best to provide high-quality care to our patients. But almost none of us provide perfect care to all of our patients all of the time. In fact, many of us get so caught up in our busy clinic schedules we occasionally forget to, say, order mammograms for women overdue for such tests, or we don’t get around to weaning ...

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screen-shot-2016-08-16-at-5-08-11-pm Donald Trump is talking about Hillary Clinton’s health as are two doctors who have never evaluated Clinton. This attention on Clinton has renewed some interest in the letter Donald Trump released last year from his personal physician. Many outlets have picked it apart, but I want to tell you as a doctor exactly how bad it is. I would never write ...

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During my first rotation of intern year, we took care of a woman who walked into the hospital with a kidney stone and never walked out. 52 years old, diabetic but otherwise healthy, she had been vacationing in Vermont with her son and extended family when she became sick with high fevers. When her symptoms didn’t improve, her son rushed her to our emergency room where an imaging scan revealed ...

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I graduated medical school in 1995. I believe in a single-payer health system. I am about championing for my patients. I left a salaried position in academic medicine to go an underserved area of rural Maine and start a practice. This is the letter I wrote to the CEO of a large health insurance company recently. Dear Mr. CEO, My name is Cathleen Greenberg London. I am a family medicine physician who ...

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"Z" and "S" were both hesitant skeptics from the start. Earlier this year, they’d signed up for an entrepreneurial class I taught. Z was a first-year medical student with a dream of having millions. S was his blonde-haired, model-type wife; ex-ballerina-come-cancer-survivor who wanted to help people with similar experiences. Before the course, she’d contemplated taking out even more debt in student loans so she could go into physical therapy.  After the course, ...

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Years ago on Cape Cod, my kids and I stumbled across a man who had spent the day creating a sand sculpture of a mermaid. It was an impressive piece of art. “How long did it take you to make it?” we asked. While I can’t recall his precise words, the response was something like “25 years and 7 hours.” I’m sure my astute readers will get his point. We are transfixed ...

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2:15 a.m., July 2, 1981. Its 83 degrees outside in a loud, humid Chicago night, but here the scrubbed air is chilled, dry, while white tiles reflect the occasional nurse, who appear and vanish, and the rhythmic sighs of the machines, gasping somewhere down empty halls, are occasionally interrupted by a frantic chime. My first night in the unit and my first patient’s chart.  Papers spill from the accidentally opened binder ...

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Living in the fine city of Boston, I am fortunate enough to be located right in the middle of a medical hub. A place that’s full of exciting new research, developments, and ideas. Working at the front line of hospital care, also with a keen interest in quality improvement, patient experience, and technology, I frequently attend social and professional healthcare networking events around the city. While doing this, I’ve gotten to ...

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