The mass media has a long history of covering medical dramas and rarely doing so with any realism.  We’ve gone from Marcus Welby, MD to a host of shows dedicated to portraying medical personnel in the most salacious ways possible.  But at least with all these dramas it is understood that they are fictional.  There are now though a host of shows which pretend to show real life medical stories ...

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You may have noticed the rash of medical news spewing from your favorite news outlets with greater frequency. As a medical professional you probably cringe as you envision the calls that are about to flood your office, “Doctor Smith, I heard a report on the news that this drug you prescribed to help me quit smoking is bad for my health!” or,  “I want a referral to The Hoffenheimer Institute ...

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April 15th marked the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, yet the mystique surrounding its demise has not faded. When the colossal vessel first collided with the iceberg, eyewitness accounts described an eerie sense of serenity that pervaded the ship. Passenger J.J. Astor even remarked, “We are safer here than in that little boat,” before later drowning. To prefer drowning over safety strike us as irrational, but this behavior ...

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On a late afternoon in mid-July I was finishing up my first Sunday on call as a third year medical student. I glanced over the patient list for 4 East, the internal medicine floor I had been assigned to cover. Familiar with patients in their eighties and nineties, I was surprised to see a 22-year-old patient admitted with acute kidney injury. He was a nice-looking young man in good spirits. Spanish ...

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There are some patients we doctors never forget. They linger in our memories for various reasons. Often, it is their serious or unusual medical condition that stays with us. On other occasions, it is a zany or unique personality that we recall, even years later. Rarely, when the doctor-patient relationship becomes injured, then the patient may become unforgettable. I remember a particular patient from 20 years ago for a very different ...

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I got into medicine because it is fun, and, of course, to help people. I think most of my colleagues did so as well. I get up every day and I get to go to work and figure out puzzles all day. How cool is that? Sure, it may not always be unwarranted or a bad thing, but testing and more testing can definitely take the fun out of taking ...

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I was appalled recently by the coverage of radiology “test recalls” by CNN, amplified by Dr. Gary Becker of the American Board of Radiology (ABR). For decades, residents have studied for their rites of passage Board examinations at the end of residencies. Radiology being no exception, I vividly remember spending innumerable hours with my co-residents, heads buried in books, papers and other study guides, to ready ourselves for the ...

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I was invited to a medical staff leadership conference sponsored by our hospital. A company specializing in training physician leaders ran the meeting. The topic was healthcare reform and its effect on hospitals and physicians. Included were discussions on patient-centered medical homes, accountable care organizations, bundled payments and physician integration and alignment with hospitals. The course director made it crystal clear that there will be no place in the future for ...

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As a cardiac electrophysiologist, I have had to discuss bad news with patients and families more times than I would like during my career.  How a physician goes about this process can make an enormous impact in the lives of those affected by the news that must be delivered. Precious little time is devoted to teaching this essential communication skill in the training of physicians today.  I can remember back to ...

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He looked dead. The paramedics brought him down the hall toward one of my critical care beds, and for a moment I thought the patient was dead. He was nearly the same color as the pale sheet covering his thin frame. His cheeks were sunken in and his eyes were gazing upward, in what I sometimes call the “death stare.” Then, surprisingly, he moved his arm upward to push his ...

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