shutterstock_287499203 “Either way, no matter what we do, you’ll live less than 12 months, probably less than nine. Even if we were in the United States, your disease is incurable.” He nodded slowly in understanding. Jean Dominique was only in his 40s and had teenagers at home. “We can treat your pain and other symptoms, but we can’t do anything to treat the ...

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shutterstock_170828528 I met my newly admitted patient in the quiet of his private room. He was frail, elderly, and coughing up gobs of green phlegm. His nasal cannula had stepped its way across his cheek during his paroxsysms and was pointed at his right eye. Although the room was uncomfortably warm, he was shivering and asking for more blankets. I could hear his ...

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shutterstock_96934004 It was only afterwords that I wondered if I had been condescending.  The words had come out so naturally.  We were sitting across from each other in the nursing home.  It didn't take a doctor to recognize that his leg was visibly less swollen.  I had seen him walking down the hallway with the physical therapist.  His face a mix of pain, ...

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Norman cried the night his daughter was born. For hours and hours. Each time he looked at her perfect head, touched the few strands of blond hair, held her in his arms, soft, smooth skin, soapy smell, pale blue eyes, tears poured down his cheeks. He felt alive. He felt alone. They named her Matilda, after his father. It was the right thing to do, because his father, Matthew, had ...

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shutterstock_253710055 Individuality matters to doctors. In the past, being a doctor brought with it an image. A selfless individual revered by his community and compensated well but fairly. The community had high expectations of him, and he could deliver because there wasn't much to know. In those days, being a doctor was an entire lifestyle, and it drew extremely talented individuals to fill the ...

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shutterstock_270431723 Every law, like every drug, has its intended effects and its side effects. EMTALA is a law you perhaps couldn’t care less about, but one that’s kept many a hospital manager awake at night. I’m not a lawyer, politician or administrator and can’t claim expertise on EMTALA subtleties. But I thought I’d touch a couple ways it has shaped our medical lives. The ...

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shutterstock_74932492 For all the talk about patient-centered care and a new health care paradigm -- which is, of course, the right way forward -- the doctor-patient relationship will always remain relatively one-sided because of the nature of the profession itself. Essentially, patients come to doctors for help, and the knowledge transfer, advice, and guidance flows in one main direction. But that doesn’t mean that ...

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shutterstock_108796946 My young patient was dying as a blood clot under the cover of her brain accumulated and began compressing the fragile tissue within her skull. She needed surgery to remove the clot that would save her life. As the team pushed her from CT scanner to the operating room, it was soon realized labs were missing and were needed before opening her ...

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shutterstock_138982304 I got a call from a patient who had a family member sick and in the ICU.  She wondered if I could come over "to offer support."  Even though the family member wasn't a patient, I thought it would be good to go. The ICU brought on flashbacks to my residency years, in which I spent a lot of time in the ICU. ...

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shutterstock_167665019 I found out my mother was dying via text message: YOUR MOM HAS A BRAIN TUMOR IN HOSPITAL -- DAD When the neurosurgery PA wheeled the computer into the exam room to show us the MRI the next morning, I found myself silently uttering an unanswered prayer that the mass would be small, resectable, peripheral. It wasn’t. “Oh my God,” Mom whispered. “I’m going to ...

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