I’m a law abiding blogger. Laws are meant to be obeyed. If an individual opposes a law in a free country, then he should operate within the system to modify it. I recognize that even in free societies, certain laws are so unjust and in violation of natural law that that the citizenry may be justified in relying upon other measures to affect necessary reform. I’m not suggesting that an unwelcome ...

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It is possible to categorize every human ailment, and assign every disease a code. This is called the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), which was first formalized as a short list of malaises at a meeting in Paris in 1900. Since then, this list has been revised ten times, getting longer each time, in an effort to aid epidemiological and policy matters around the world. The ninth edition (ICD-9) has ...

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Emergency department directors measure value in their departments with a number of metrics that are tracked religiously: door-to-provider times, ambulance drop-off times, left without being seen rates, length of stay for discharged patients, diversion hours, and 72-hour returns all come to mind.

These  metrics clearly measure the performance of the emergency department, what to they do, if anything, to measure the value of care being provided? These metrics are often ...

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Mr. D was my patient in the partial hospital program for the chronically and persistently mentally ill, and he was barely maintaining the level of functioning necessary to remain outside of the inpatient unit. A middle aged man with long-term psychotic and depressive symptoms, Mr. D’s care was made even more complicated by an extensive history of alcohol dependence and intravenous drug use that had left him with a severely ...

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November, 1999 was a watershed for physicians. It is then that the infamous "To Err is Human" report was issued by the Institute of Medicine claiming that close to 100,000 patients were needlessly dying due to preventable medical errors. The report was a bombshell, having a significant impact on how medicine was practiced. 15 years later we are still evaluating that impact. To anyone who took the time to read the ...

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There is a growing group of articulate and engaged patients committed to getting access to all their medical information in order to be better positioned to work collaboratively with their clinical teams. Published studies like the OpenNotes project have consistently shown significant benefits and a lack of serious problems. Health care systems are slow to change and just beginning to understand both the need and value to this ...

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I get it. It is a little strange. In fact, some people even think I’m crazy. Why? I’m a physician, but in my free time, I love helping my colleagues improve their patient satisfaction. Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time discussing a patient satisfaction survey known as CG-CAHPS (Clinician and Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems). I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you to learn that CG-CAHPS is ...

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I’ve always been good at pattern recognition and my visual-spatial orientation is excellent. Photography is my hobby, so it was only natural that as a medical student and internal medicine resident, I loved my dermatology electives.  Each day yielded up a new parade of interesting skin lesions and rashes, and by the end of my rotations I was confident in my diagnoses and recommendations. Contact dermatitis? Steroids!  Eczema? Steroids!  Psoriasis? ...

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Ask almost any physician why they chose medicine, and they'll answer, "I wanted to make a difference in the lives of patients." But in today's high-pressure healthcare environment, it's easy to get caught up in performance metrics and obsessed with efficiency. We tell ourselves, "It's OK, as long as we're delivering great clinical care, we're delivering great care. After all, the massive heart attack was averted. The wound was stitched. What ...

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When things go wrong in medicine, as they invariably do, we try to figure out what went wrong, and why.  We try to learn if there’s anything we could have done better and what we should do next time. It used to be, in the days of the giants, that the physician responsible for the patient with the bad outcome presented the case during a morbidity and mortality (M&M) conference.  It was ...

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