There was no mistake, but a bad thing has happened.  Despite the best efforts of the doctors, Bob’s wife is very sick.  Due to a rare side effect of treatment, her liver is failing.  Bob believes this could have been prevented. He is very mad. “When we go to see the doctor, he stares at the computer,” says Bob. “He does not look at us.  Most of the time, the doctor ...

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As a child, the only physician I ever knew was our crusty opinionated and entirely trustworthy family doc. His physician career spanned almost five decades, in one unbroken line from his first days as a GP in solo practice until his retirement, which occurred way past the age at which most of us would like to stop working. His was the typical physician career, representing continuity, professional satisfaction and a lifelong commitment ...

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One of the most common stressors for physicians is the sheer toxicity of what are considered full time hours. While the rest of the world considers full time to be 40 hours a week, we all know a full time doc starts at 80 plus, if you include all the hours you must be available on call. In physician surveys, schedule flexibility and the ability to function as a part time ...

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Even though I love my job, I’ve been feeling a little burned out lately. I think it comes from being stretched too thin, which is something I’ve coped with off an on ever since med school. As the saying goes, there are never enough hours in the day, and sometimes that really gets to me. While my practice is incredibly important, I also place a lot of value on my family. ...

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Everyone suffers when communication fails at the end of life. Though we may “know in our hearts” what to do in difficult situations; anxiety and bias close us down. We lose our ability to say and act on what we know is best. Physicians and nurses suffer when they “know in their hearts” that they are doing harm performing CPR on people at a natural end of their lives on people ...

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I have been asked a lot lately, owing to the release of my novel Altamont Augie, what writing fiction and being a doctor could possibly have in common? Patients and colleagues seem shocked that the rational, left-brain doctor they have come to know and depend on to deliver technologically complex medical care to patients with kidney failure could produce such a right-brain thing as a novel. Where did this ...

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I am used to being called a “medical provider” instead of a doctor or a physician these days, but it makes me think about the implications of our choices of words. The word “provider” was first used in non-medical contexts over 500 years ago. It is derived from the Latin providere, which means look ahead, prepare, supply. “Medical provider” is part of the Newspeak of America’s industrialized medical machine. ...

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Mostly it is just terrifying. I sat on the edge of the bed in my fleece pajamas and tried to describe the fear. “I’m sure you’ll do great,” my husband tried to reassure me. “But you don’t understand. Every time you induce general anesthesia, you’re basically almost killing someone. It’s … petrifying.” “But everyone always said you were a great resident Felicity, you’re going to be a great attending too. I’m sure everything will ...

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Mike was a runner, outdoors-man, and fitness nut. This was not so much as for health reasons as for "feeling good", but he did hope that it would help him avoid illness. It was worrisome when he started with some belly cramping and noticed some blood streaks in his stools. It took about a month until he could be scheduled for a colonoscopy. The news was shocking. "There's a cancer ...

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March 29, 2012 Calhoun Lecture Series Strom Thurmond Institute, Clemson University Thank you for the invitation to speak tonight. I’m very humbled to stand before you. And what a delight to speak to people who are neither bleeding, intoxicated nor asking for Percocet!   And in a setting where no one will burst through the back door on a stretcher! As you know, I’m an emergency physician at Oconee Medical Center. But before I go ...

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