Hospitals can save you, but they can also harm you. So how can you stay safe in hospitals? Follow these 12 life-saving tips: 1. Never go alone. Always bring someone else—a trusted family member or friend—with you. That person will be your primary advocate, and can serve as an extra set of eyes and ears to help make sure you are safe. (This tip applies to routine doctors’ appointments too; always ...

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I’ve been going about this all wrong. It’s not my dumping of the payment system so I can focus on care over codes, my use of technology to connect better with patients, or my vision of the “collaborative record” that is wrong.  It’s the fact that I am doing this without my most important resource: my patients. I realized this while driving in to work this past week.  My first patient was ...

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As an intellectual female surgeon, I have always resented being pinned down by my gender. Throughout medical school, I refused to join “Women’s Societies”. I felt that these were excuses for disillusioned women to get together and complain that the reason they were not succeeding was their gender. I, on the other hand, did not feel limited by my gender nor did I hide it. Instead, I relished it. I ...

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A front-page Boston Globe article on a neurosurgeon suing a caregiver for a harsh blog post  is exciting but unrepresentative of the overall state of online doctor reviews. However it caused me to take another look at online physician ratings from the perspective of someone trying to find a doctor. Conclusion: we are still in the early days and there is plenty of opportunity for better, more useful information. ...

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My son has been accepted into medical school, we learned last week, and I must say I’m about as happy a mother and a physician as you could find anywhere.  For everything that’s wrong with the American healthcare system today, medicine is a wonderful profession and it’s still the greatest honor in the world for a patient to have faith in your skills and care. It will be interesting to see ...

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In 2010, a surgical scrub technician named Kristen Parker was sentenced to thirty years in federal prison after allegedly diverting fentanyl from operating rooms, injecting herself with the powerful intravenous narcotic, refilling the contaminated syringes with saline, and replacing them to be used on patients.  She was infected with hepatitis C, and her drug diversions infected over two dozen patients in the Denver area. In 2012, David Kwiatkowski, also positive for ...

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I have kept some of my books from medical school displayed on the shelf, including suggested contemplative readings meant to tenderly inculcate students with a sense of compassion. Like so many fledglings, we soar off into our chosen paths. Many new realities and considerations take hold. I shall refer to these as the “business, logistics and politics” of medicine. How can we ensure that we are adhering to the standards of ...

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Today I had the displeasure of sitting in judgment before a modern inquisition at one of the hospitals I attend. Although the grand inquisitor lacked the trappings of a monsignor or bishop, and without a physical executioner in the room, I was subjected to  round after round of questions regarding my apparent disregard for system wide medical and post surgical protocols. Such protocols have been adopted by CMS (which oversees ...

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A little over a year ago, I found myself burning out and realized that my worklife was unsustainable. I’d been working at an FQHC clinic, and had become the site’s medical director a few months before. I was practicing as a primary care doc, trying to improve our clinical workflows, problem-solving around the new e-prescribing system, helping plan the agency’s transition from paper charts to electronic charts, and working on our ...

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The medical arena, like society at large, is permeated with self-interest. This reality makes me very skeptical that comparative effectiveness research, which I support, will get airborne. In medicine, every heath care reform, new medicine, new medical device or revised medical guideline is at some constituency’s expense.  Recognizing and dismantling conflicts of interests is one of our greatest challenges and threats. When I ...

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