A response to "You signed up to be a doctor, not a martyr." Dear next patient, I appreciate your letter and your advice. I would sincerely like to follow all your advice concerning exercise, eating right, and spending more time with family. I try to make every effort to do so. Unfortunately, I am in the middle of transitioning for the third time to a new EMR system and managing quality ...

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I’m a physician, part of the enormous all-consuming machine called modern health care.  This machine is driven by value-based best practice and end results. Literal life and death decisions are required daily, so naturally I become impatient when my son can’t decide between chocolate and vanilla or which movie to watch. My cultivated Achilles' heel of impatience has a tendency to interfere with daily interactions or decisions because of the dreaded ...

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If the act of organ donation is among humanity’s greatest gifts, what can be said of living donors who undergo surgery to extend and improve the life of another? It’s truly a courageous and inspiring sacrifice. I was honored recently to be able to perform my first living-donor liver transplant. Jason Clark, 28, donated about 60 percent of his liver to his father, Lynn, 57, who had been sick for many ...

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I've held many hands, been generous with my hugs, and tried to treat every patient as though they were my mother. I lost my mother to leukemia almost one decade ago. I know what it's like to feel defeated by the health care system, by health care providers, by medications, and by the human body's response to all of the above. A patient will never forget a health care provider that ...

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Talking to health care professionals about the importance of loving your patients and colleagues -- as I often do -- might raise eyebrows. How can we be expected to love our patients during a 15-minute clinic visit? How can love form among hospital teams coming together for a surgical procedure but then moving on to other work? Perhaps most importantly, how will this love make any difference in our patients' lives ...

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Nothing brings out the mama lioness in me more than seeing one of my cubs not being treated as well as I think it should be. Recently I had the unusual experience of accompanying my oldest daughter into an unfamiliar hospital for a minor surgical procedure. Now, this daughter isn’t exactly a cub; she’s a full-fledged adult, with a master’s degree in health care administration, a husband, and two small boys of ...

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This is the first letter I’ve ever written to a political figure, and I pray that someone on your staff will bring this letter to your attention. I have been a physician for close to 30 years. I am a second-generation pediatrician struggling to keep an independent solo practice alive. Not one politician has addressed what I feel is the major threat to health care: the physician-patient relationship. Without this, ...

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Just three weeks earlier, she had noticed something strange about one of her breasts. An irregular shape. Her daughter brought her to the doctor, and soon the patient, I’ll call her Amanda, was diagnosed with breast cancer, stage “to be determined.” In fact, she was now in an oncologist’s office, learning what tests she would receive to determine the extent of her tumor. And sitting between her and the doctor ...

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Ran into a radiology colleague today.  He will retire soon, and was happy to discuss the stress on radiology.  I have observed more interpretation errors (or at least I think I have) over the past five years.  We now strongly stress that the learners review all films and question radiology reads. My friend opined that volume expectations have become unsustainable.  We order too many imaging studies.  When you ask physicians to ramp ...

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Like an anthem, a holy grail, the word appears in every journal, every proposal, and every health strategic plan. “Quality.” We say, read and hear it so often we are developing quality fatigue. Like iterative hackneyed phrases such as “out-of-the-box”, “deep-dive” and perhaps even “personalized medicine,” quality has begun to feel like water torture and risks being deprived of flavor or meaning.  However, do not so fooled or bludgeoned that you lose ...

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