Patients often don’t get the respect they deserve. Take the subject of patient engagement.  Just about everywhere you turn in the health care literature these days we are told how physicians and other providers need to do a better job getting patients involved in their own health. But is that really their role? Patient engagement is not the job of health care providers Why?  Because by the time a person (aka patient) ...

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There was a night when I was in training that all the decisions, disasters and chaos, which are the practice of medicine, caught up to me.  In those dark hours, I felt practically despondent.  What I had seen left me in tears and overwhelmed by the tasks in front of me. At that moment a wise attending physician took a moment to sit with me.  Rather than tell me how wonderful ...

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Never heard of the 90-80 dilemma? That’s because I have just coined the phrase. You see, tied into soaring healthcare costs in this country, is another humanitarian crisis of massive proportions. A huge gap exists between what Americans want for end-of-life care and what they actually receive. 90% of people wish to die at home, yet nearly 80% of us actually die in institutions (hospitals and nursing homes.) So, how did we ...

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There's nothing better than sitting down with a patient, going though an entire visit, and collaborating on a well thought out plan that meets everyone's expectations. Shared decision making is a wonderful and necessary concept in modern patient care. Paternalistic attitudes are fading away in the medical community as the next generations of doctors continue to get educated on how to manage patients who are very knowledgeable and yearn to be ...

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I'm currently having a chance to do one of my least favorite things: be a patient. And the whole time, I'm missing no opportunity to declare what a bad patient I am. "I'm sorry I'm such a bad patient," I said to the phlebotomist when I winced as she drew my blood. "I know I'm a bad patient," I said to the x-ray technician who re-positioned my fractured arm. "We ...

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The show-stopping line from the Hans Christian Anderson’s 1837 fairytale is actually, “But he has nothing on!” A brave, young, clear thinking boy in the crowd is the only person confident enough to say what he thinks and speak up. Perhaps even more simply, the young voice in the crowd has not had the life experience that often builds (and rewards) the filters of loyalty, flattery and only saying and thinking ...

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The power of words in cancer careIn oncology, there are certain words and phrases that (no matter how carefully said) suck the air out of a room, like "you have cancer," "you've recurred," "incurable," "terminal," and "hospice." Such phrases require careful consideration before they are spoken, and most (if not all) oncologists understand the power of these words, and use them carefully. However, there are others that can ...

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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. ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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