One of my students told me about his experience at TEDMED, the future-oriented medical conference that bills itself as "a celebration of human achievement and the power of connecting the unconnected in creative ways to change our world in health and medicine." He recounted how one speaker showed off the Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant, which news outlets quickly dubbed the "Robo-Doc." This high-priced gadget is designed ...

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shutterstock_114133564 Should doctors be able to write? At first glance, this might seem like a question with an easy answer. Yes, you might say, doctors receive a doctorate and are trusted with communicating to and about people at critical moments in their lives. Or you could reply, No, they are scientists and so need to be functional communicators able to write basic notes and prescriptions, and ...

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On April 14, The United States Preventive Services Task Force concluded that women with an elevated risk of breast cancer – who have never been diagnosed with breast cancer but whose family history and other medical factors increase their odds of developing the disease–should consider taking one of two pills that cut that risk in half. The Task Force is an independent panel of medical experts who review the ...

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“J.T.” is 92 and clearly a soul who lives to the beat of a different drummer. She has no children and her closest relative is a niece who she despises. Despite this the niece oversees her care, sending in a full time aide and her personnel assistant to run the household. J.T. will not come to the office for a visit. If I call and make an appointment to see ...

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A few years after I entered my practice as a newly certified internist, about two decades ago now, I started to burn out. I felt I was becoming a documentation drone and a guideline-following automaton. I was embarrassed for some of the care I gave--attempting to fit patients’ round needs into the square peg of the medical model. Patients who came to talk about depression were marched through a complete review ...

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Recently, over 520 of our doctors began sharing their office visit notes with patients. All primary care doctors and general pediatricians, and selected physicians within pediatric subspecialties, dermatology, endocrinology, pulmonology, nephrology, rheumatology, cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, vascular surgery, neurosurgery, and women’s health—including obstetrics and gynecology and gynecologic oncology—are participating in OpenNotes. That means tens of thousands of our patients will have access to the notes doctors write about them. After each ...

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shutterstock_102766814 Not old enough to remember any sort of “glory day” in medicine, I still enjoy hearing from older colleagues who recount days when they were respected, paid fairly, and able to practice medicine autonomously at the highest and most uncompromising level. What was that like, I wonder? For five years, I’ve been a busy practicing anesthesiologist. And for five years, I’ve listened ...

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Medical and surgical errors are very common in the hospital setting. They increase  malpractice lawsuits, the cost of medical care, patients’ hospital stays, and morbidity and mortality. As an infectious diseases specialist for over forty years, I was not aware how common these errors are until I became a patient myself after being diagnosed with hypopharyngeal carcinoma. My initial cancer was successfully removed, but a local recurrence occurred twenty months ...

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I have witnessed a lot of obesity bias in my career, and I have railed against it on more than one occasion. But it's not the focus of my career, as it is for some of my colleagues. I have long thought those colleagues who do devote themselves to the topic may tend to overlook a very fundamental question, namely: Why would obesity bias ...

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Choosing a new doctor is never easy. You need to know about convenience factors, such as office location, available appointment times, and accepted insurance plans. You will probably also consider background information, such as education, board certifications, and licenses. But the most important question you likely have involves results: Is this doctor any good? Unfortunately, there just isn’t a single, perfect way to measure the quality of individual doctors. ...

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