In medical training, one of the main things that is emphasized is the importance of acting professionally. We encounter patients who have a particular idea of how doctors are supposed to act during the patient-physician encounter, and for the most part, I expected that they would want a doctor who is caring, but serious, at the same time. In those encounters, we are focusing on the health of patients, a very ...

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Earlier this month I read a Wall Street Journal article about Zeynep Ton’s Good Jobs Index. Who is Zeynep Ton? She is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management who has ranked retailers on employee happiness. This was so positive. It was good to hear about businesses concerned about employee happiness and not just about profits and shareholders. Two weeks later I was dismayed to ...

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I walk into a tiny ER room and shut the glass door behind me. The smell is dizzying. I look down and see a frail man lying on a stretcher. A soiled bandage on his left leg is halfway unfurled. He is diaphoretic. He sleepily opens his eyes when I say his name. For me, I have barely begun my assessment, but the writing is on the wall. This man ...

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A trip to the doctor's office usually isn't something we look forward to. Many people have shared their frustrations with me regarding their experiences with doctors, and it occurred to me that there are many things that go on behind the scenes that people may not realize.  Here are five things to know to help you avoid having a disappointing experience. 1. Doctors want to be able to spend more time with you. Frustrated on having to wait ...

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Overtesting -- it’s an epidemic threatening consumers of U.S. health care. The notion that testing can be anything but beneficial belies the common assumption that more information is always better, as exemplified by billionaire Mark Cuban’s proclamation earlier this year that he obtains “baseline” quarterly blood tests and encourages others to do so. Knowledge is power, right? Not always. Aside from adding economic strain to our already beleaguered health ...

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Yesterday my friend Sophie asked me to accompany her to a Miami hospital intensive care unit to see her older brother, Guillermo. He'd been admitted the previous night with seizures and cardiac arrhythmia. Joined by my husband, we made our way to the ICU. When she saw Guillermo lying immobile, swollen and unresponsive, with a breathing tube in his mouth and other tubes snaking into his chest from IV poles, Sophie ...

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Being your doctor is exhilarating. Every day I wake up to a schedule brimmed with purpose. The door of my office is a portal into the richness of the human experience. I become a thread in the tapestry of other's lives. I bear witness to the joy and pain, laughter and heartache, and mundane daily routine. I spend my days bouncing between art and science. Paid to be the wily detective, my ...

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A recent paper in the Annals of Internal Medicine has sparked a large media response. In it, two incidents are described: In one, a male OB/GYN is prepping a patient's vaginal area for surgery, which involves running a brush soaked in Betadine or ChloraPrep solution over the labia, mons pubis, perineum, and inner thighs when the patient is already put to sleep by anesthesia.  He makes an appalling joke, "I ...

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“Tell me about your mother.” That is always how it begins. There was never quite enough time the last few years, time to put her affairs in order, time to talk about the unpleasantness that comes at the end of life. Now here we were, standing watch beside her stretcher in the emergency room. Upstairs was the grim certainty of the intensive care unit, the ceaseless beep-beep-beep of the life-support machines, ...

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How do we care for the people who care for us? As doctors, we’re immersed in pain and suffering -- as a career. We cry when our patients die. We feel grief anxiety, depression -- even suicidal -- all occupational hazards of our profession. A recent Medscape article on physician health programs suggests the people who are here to help us may actually be doing more harm than good. ...

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