Through three years of medical school, I’ve seen disgruntled physicians repeatedly slam the recent movement toward patient satisfaction. In our family medicine clinic, a copy of Dr. William Sonnenberg’s essay “Patient Satisfaction is Overrated” hangs on the door to remind attendings, residents, and students of the unfair pressure to keep patients happy despite their demand for antibiotics, imaging studies, or narcotics. The only way to keep the patients satisfied, the argument ...

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The day I graduated from medical school and walked across that stage with my diploma in hand, I was sure that I had achieved the highest honor in the land.  I could not help envisioning myself in a long, crisp white coat, walking down the long hallways of the hospital, with my name badge perfectly displayed that read: "doctor." I was certain in my mind that I had finally made it.  ...

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It’s coming up on that time of year again. Spring break is here, next comes school assemblies leading up to the end of the school year. It’s that inevitable time of year where I see news story after news story where children are rewarded Oprah-style for their awesome record of perfect attendance: “You get a bike and you get a bike and you get a bike.” Yeah! It’s pretty heart-warming and exciting, right? There ...

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Recently, we had a wonderful reception at the American College of Physician's Internal Medicine 2014. Sitting with leadership colleagues we had a wonderful conversation about how medicine changes. One colleague gave the example of ulcer disease. Those who trained in the 1960s and 1970s know most of this history, but it actually goes back to the early part of the 20th century. Consider the Sippy diet, the Bilroth II, highly selective ...

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As I walk into the hospital each day, I notice patients and families sitting outside on benches that are surrounded by large signs prohibiting smoking on hospital grounds. For over five years, a collaborative and concerted effort by Memphis hospitals has successfully made all the hospital campuses smoke-free. Now, in other states, hospital systems like Cleveland Clinic and Baylor Health Care have taken another bold step forward. They have stopped hiring ...

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asco-logoMartha (name changed) had recurred yet again -- her third in as many years. Despite our best attempts, remission proved fleeting. Fortunately, she had few (if any) symptoms of the cancer in her abdomen; no bloating, no nausea, no difficulty moving her bowels. Her concerns were more psychological -- anxiety and frustration because her cancer refused to go away, and indeed, ...

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The recent concentration of misleading media hooey about health has been excruciating, but the problem is perennial. I trust I needn't make the case that you are under constant assault by distorted, contorted, titillating, and insipid headlines. This is certainly true in my domain of health and medicine; it may well be true more generally, but I tend to limit my commentary to the realm of my actual expertise. But to ...

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I've been in the medical malpractice arena many times, and always walked away unharmed. If this system were presented in front of a fair minded and impartial jury, it would be dismantled. Sure, there are positive elements present, but they are dwarfed and suffocated by the drawbacks. The self-serving arguments supporting the current system are far outweighed by the financial and emotional costs that innocent physicians unfairly bear. Tort reform ...

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“Can you hear it?” she asked with a smile. The thin, pleasant lady seemed as struck by her murmur as I was. She was calm, perhaps amused by the clumsy second-year medical student listening to her heart. “Yes, yes I can,” I replied, barely concealing my excitement. We had just learned about the heart sounds in class. This was my first time hearing anything abnormal on a patient, though it was ...

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shutterstock_118108942 I'm no economist.  In fact, I have never taken any business or accounting classes in my life.  But it doesn't take a formal education to get this.  We are speeding down the wrong path. The call at three in the morning woke me from a deep sleep.  I fumbled and strained to hear the whispered voice of the apologetic nurse.  Apparently Mrs. ...

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