The other day Atul Gawande tweeted the following:

I am not against checklists. When I was a surgical chairman, I implemented and used one in both the operating room and the ICU. They do not add costs and ...

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I have written many columns urging doctors to be honest with their patients, especially about difficult news.  Too often patients are lead on false hope therapy rides, rather than empowered with honest information so that they can cope with their disease and future. Doctors are not the only ones who can keep a painful secret. I admitted Sarah to the hospital late on Saturday night.  For over two years, she had ...

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In my past few shifts in the emergency department, I have seen the following patients who were seeking further care after being treated by other providers. One was a child who had been seen twice at an urgent care clinic. He had a fever of 103 degrees and wasn’t eating. The first time he went to the urgent care center, he was diagnosed with an ear infection. He was started on ...

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When I was a boy, my dream was to become an airline pilot. The job seemed glamorous and exciting, and appeared to be held in high regard by all the people around me. I actually used to have a bit of an obsession with airplanes, and living so close to Heathrow Airport, had plenty of opportunities to see planes and visit the airport: both as a passenger and whenever we ...

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Next in a series. The fundamental problem in health care delivery today is a highly dysfunctional payment system that leads to higher costs, lesser quality and reduced satisfaction. It also means less time between doctor and patient with the loss of “relationship medicine.” The core problem? Price controls and regulations that reduce the trust and core interactions between doctor and patient. The patient is no one’s customer and visit times ...

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Throwing the Hippocratic Oath in the trashThrowing the Hippocratic Oath in the trash An excerpt from The Demise of Medicine. The Dalai Lama has once been quoted as saying, “Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”  In a nutshell, the Hippocratic Oath can be summarized in this one phrase: “Primum non ...

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Recently I was the only witness to testify against local medical marijuana legislation.  The bill, already endorsed by all members of the Council of the District of Columbia, would allow use of marijuana for “any condition for which treatment with medical marijuana would be beneficial, as determined by the patient’s physician.”  As I waited hours for my turn to highlight the medical evidence about marijuana’s health effects, I sat silently, taking in ...

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For the better part of the last two decades I have practiced psychiatry in a variety of different American health care systems, and over these years I have, on numerous occasions, heard psychiatric services referred to in manner that imply (often subtly) that such services are not medical care.  These references come not only from patients, but nurses and doctors (including myself) too. “Yes Mr. Jones you need to follow up ...

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The mission creep of maintenance of certification Up until 1988, being board certified in pediatrics was a voluntary process of passing the board exam once in a career. The American Board of Pediatrics (ABP) apparently realized this process didn’t make them much money, so in 1989, they abruptly ended “lifetime certification” and required an open book test and the associated fee every seven years.  I was in pediatric residency during this maintenance of certification ...

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Why you should love your doctor Doctors spend their 20s and 30s studying while most of their friends are at parties and enjoying their youth. Doctors may amass up to $500,000 in debt for the honor of one day caring for you and your family. Doctors delay childbearing and starting their own families so they can care for your family. Doctors miss their own kids’ ballet recitals and baseball games ...

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