Irontriangle Walking to the 2014 Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) Scientific Sessions recently, I couldn't help but marvel how beautiful San Francisco was. The weather was perfect, the streets bustling, the quaint shops and eateries doing brisk business in a very hip metropolitan city with a distinctive West Coast vibe. As I walked up to the Moscone Conference Center, I was struck by ...

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to live in this world you must be able to do three things to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go -Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems, Vol. 1 As a parent, you are not supposed to have a favorite child, and since some of us physicians feel a strange but kindred protectiveness for our patients, likewise we ...

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Fifteen years ago I got an unexpected invitation to write a column for a dermatology newspaper aimed at practicing clinicians. Because dermatology is a concrete field that lends itself to punning, I called the column “Under My Skin.” Writing it monthly since then has given me a chance to take a humorous and sometimes cathartic look at the joys and woes of practice. It’s fun to do, and gratifying to hear ...

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Patient noncompliance. I wasn’t very familiar with this term until I started my clinical rotations. But after just the first week, I started noticing that health care providers throw this phrase around all time. We particularly like using it as an excuse. Why did this diabetic patient require a foot amputation? Why does this patient come in monthly with congestive heart failure exacerbation? Why did this patient suffer a stroke? It’s often ...

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What do we want in the last days of life?  We want no pain. We want simple dignity, the physical kind where we clean ourselves, organize our medicine and command our bowels.  As important is the complex dignity of choosing where we spend our final days, make tough decisions for ourselves and, as much as possible, live as a person, not a patient.  It occurs to me that these critical ...

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shutterstock_93685306 The Institute of Medicine in 2010 famously recommended that nurses should be encouraged to practice “to the full extent of their education and training.” Often, you’ll hear people advocate that every health care worker should “practice at the top of their license.” What this concept is supposed to mean, I think, is that anyone with clinical skills should use them effectively ...

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The idea behind surgery is a really simple one: You come to me with a specific problem, I fix it, you go away happy. And when you come back, you're still happy. What's so wrong with that? If I wanted to be miserable, I'd have gone into primary care. When a surgeon screws up, his/her role is clear: Admit it, make it better, or as good as possible, and stick with ...

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asco-logoThe world is a big place and here in the U.S., we are fortunate to live in a part of it where we have access to technology and advanced medical care, clinical trials, and new therapies, even before they are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Indeed, even new agents approved for one indication can be prescribed off-label in ...

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Recently, I had what I’d call a true banner day in my office. One late afternoon, after I had finished seeing patients, I had started in on that iniquitous pile of paperwork that awaits all of us doctors after office hours. As usual, I was finding the task alternately arduous (can my patient comfortably carry five-to-ten pounds for five-to-ten minutes?), rewarding (the patient does not have lupus), and monotonous (there ...

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Why does is seem that so much information given to us comes with disclaimers? The weight loss product ads on TV that promise more than they will deliver, are always accompanied by 5 nanosecond disclaimers in a font size that can’t be discerned by the human retina stating that the results are not typical. It seems deceptive to be advertising a product by showcasing a performance that the vendor admits is ...

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