It is increasingly becoming the year of the Thrifty Patient. People are paying for more medical care and are more responsible for the costs of getting that care via higher deductibles and co-pays. Patients don’t have a choice but to be involved in their care. Though the recent 2008 recession saw a decrease in overall medical and health care utilization as ...

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My heart began pounding as I listened to the sound of the dial tone in my ear. After three rings a woman answered groggily and uncertainly, “H-hello?” “Mrs. Peterson?” I asked. My voice trembled slightly. It was 2 a.m., and I’d awakened her from what I imagined had been a troubled sleep. “Yes?” “This is Dr. Lickerman. I’m calling from the hospital.” I paused. “I’m calling about your husband.” There was silence. Then a breathless, “Yes?” “Mrs. Peterson, ...

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Hospitals are busy places to work. The work is fast paced, and never seems to stop. For most physicians, the work ends when the work is done, or until you fall over, whichever comes first. So as a consultant, when I am seeing a patient wherein there is no longer anything that I am contributing to a patient’s care it’s routine that a physician would “sign off” the case, meaning ...

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Most of us would agree that doctors should not treat patients without their consent, except in special cases like emergency care for an unconscious patient. It’s not enough for doctors to ask “Is it OK with you if I do this?” They should get informed consent from patients who understand the facts, the odds of success, and the risk/benefit ratio of treatments. The ethical principle of autonomy requires that they ...

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Surprise! It turns out that if every woman in the US got a mammogram every year, almost exactly the same number of them would still die of breast cancer. Why? Watch this video. Read this by TBTAM. Bottom line: mammograms don’t find aggressive cancers soon enough (by definition, you can’t), while too many of the cancers they do find were never going to be fatal anyway. This is what “over-diagnosis” ...

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A buddy of mine sent along an interesting link by a physician named Ben Brown that makes an argument that doctors actually aren't all that well off.   Salaries are down.  Education costs can exceed $300,000 over the course of college, medical school, and residency.  By the time you take that first job, you're on the wrong side of 30 and Wells Fargo is demanding $1800 a month for all your student loans.  It's ...

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The debate over pay for performance in healthcare gets progressively more interesting, and confusing. And, with Medicare’s recent launch of its value-based purchasing and readmission penalty programs, the debate is no longer theoretical. Just in the past several months, we’ve seen studies showing that pay for performance works, and others showing that it doesn’t. ...

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We are on a search for truth, but will we ever find it? That summarizes how I feel after reading an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, which once again raises the question of how much screening mammography contributes to the progress we have made in reducing deaths from breast cancer in ...

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Our 5 year-old keeps forgetting to draw arms on his people at school. The lack of arms has evolved since school started in September and even came up in his parent-teacher conference recently. I found it odd– he always seems to remember that humans have arms when he draws at home. We didn’t mention it to him. And when his brother ...

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Physicians are terrible patients. That fact is one of the few absolutes in medicine. I can remember developing an acute appendicitis as a medical student. I remember the fear, the uncertainty and the discomfort. I can remember wanting someone who was in charge to spend a little time in my room explaining things to me. I can remember the embarrassment I felt when a group of 6 student nurses paraded ...

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