Here’s a thought experiment presented a recent conference on healthcare consumer advocacy. Let’s say that you’re told you need surgery of your knee. It’s an elective surgery to repair a torn knee ligament, the ACL. Your insurance covers part, but not all, of the cost. How do you choose which hospital to go to? At the moment, there is very little information for you to make such a decision. Many people will choose ...

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The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued a recently regarding legislative interference and health care decisions. Specifically, the release states that: "Government should not interfere with the patient-physician relationship without a substantial public health justification." The full Statement of Policy was approved by ACOG’s Executive Board. Some recent examples of government interference include mandatory age requirements for Plan B, transvaginal ultrasounds before abortion, prohibiting doctors from asking ...

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Ellen died a clockwork machine, restrained by Versed, fed by nasal tube, secretions in bags, and as her blood pressure dropped intravenous pressors accelerated in dose until blood squeezed from her extremities left fingertips dry and black as coal. Death occurred on the 41st hospital day, after 27 minutes of scripted, six rib fracturing, 360-joule electric shock CPR. A brutal case by any measure, worse because advanced cancer ...

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Vermont became the first state to enact a law authorizing physician-assisted suicide through the legislative process.  As the governor signed the bill, Jean Mallary watched carefully over his shoulder. She’s the widow of the late Dick Mallary, a former speaker of the House and U.S. Congressman.  Mallary was in pain and suffered from terminal cancer when he chose to end his life over a year ago. Jean Mallary’s story ...

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It was my second day of residency, and something was afoot. As I made my way around my first rotation on the cardiac floor, my medical senses were tingling. There was something strange happening to all of my patients, I saw. As I peaked over my cohort’s shoulders, I secretly saw that it was happening to their patients too, though they hadn’t seemed to notice. Only I did, and I was ...

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The sudden illness of a colleague is always a shocking surprise.  As physicians, we are trained from an early age to ignore our own infirmities in the service of others.  Apart from my three C-sections, I have been extremely fortunate in terms of my own health—I can count the number of sick days I’ve taken in the last thirty years on one hand and I am thankful every day for ...

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shutterstock_94210177 I’ve written before about the increased risk for future cancer, if any, of diagnostic radiation. These posts have generated a large number of comments and questions from parents. Most take the form of fear they have needlessly increased their child’s future cancer risk by agreeing to a CT scan. A new research study give us some important new information about ...

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As a little boy I had a dream that I have always wanted to join the circus.  I thought for sure I could be a clown or even the ringmaster.  At age 34 a friend who did public relations for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus gave me the opportunity to make my dream come true and I was invited to be a clown in the circus. The show was to ...

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In October of 2011, I left my job of 17 years, which I loved, mostly, and started a 2 year sabbatical. Since sabbatical implies that there is one year of rest every 7 years, I have built up at least 2 years since finishing medical school in 1986. Nobody in my office or medical community did sabbaticals, but we discussed that it would be a great idea when we first ...

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alarm fatigue Patient safety and hospital quality is a scary topic. I’ll go easy. I’m just a doctor. I don’t know much. Entire departments, filled with cubicles, computers and well-meaning people, now exist to keep hospitals tightly regulated and running perfectly. There is data to analyze, regulations to read, and oh so many meetings to attend. This place of healing will be safe—and perfect. The ...

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