Two weeks had passed before I learned what happened. I hadn’t seen him in several months. At our last meeting, the trees were full of red and orange leaves. He, as usual, was not interested in talking to me. He was sitting in front of a closed shop. “Hi. How are you?” “Fine.” People in the neighborhood took care of him. Surrounding him were several plastic bags holding neatly stacked styrofoam containers filled with soup. ...

Read more...

I love when an article I read first thing in the morning gets me to think about itself all through my morning chores and then erupts into a blog post. So it was with this little gem in the statistical publication Significance. The author suggests making gambling safer by placing realistic odds estimates right on the poker machines in casinos. He even goes through the generation of the odds ...

Read more...

For anyone in the helping professions, compassion fatigue is a common occurrence and a clear signal to take better care of your own needs. Compassion fatigue is when you find yourself challenged to care about your patients in the way you know is proper and expected in your position. One of the key components of quality healthcare is the ability for you to connect with your patients and for them to ...

Read more...

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 ...

Read more...

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 ...

Read more...

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 ...

Read more...

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 ...

Read more...

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 ...

Read more...

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 ...

Read more...

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 ...

Read more...