“Mr. Jones’ chest x-ray looks normal,” the intern said to me on morning rounds. Mr. Jones just had a transhiatal esophagectomy (THE).  The esophagus is the muscular tube that connects the back of one’s throat to their stomach.  It can develop cancer or become completely dysfunctional because of benign processes, and therefore need to be removed. A THE involves cutting out the patient’s esophagus, in Mr. Jones’ case for cancer, bringing the stomach up ...

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How hospitals discourage doctors: A step by step guide Not accustomed to visiting hospital executive suites, I took my seat in the waiting room somewhat warily. Seated across from me was a handsome man in a well-tailored three-piece suit, whose thoroughly professional appearance made me -- in my rumpled white coat, sheaves of dog-eared paper bulging from both pockets -- feel out of place. Within a minute, an administrative secretary came out and ...

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The Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare, increased the availability of FDA-approved contraception to women through cost-free coverage under the contraceptive mandate. With the exception of some religiously affiliated insurance plans and employers who are legally exempt, this mandate supports women’s access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including the most effective forms of contraception. However, an integral part of family planning was left out of the legislation: contraceptive ...

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It was my first day at my new job, practicing a new specialty. Having spent fourteen years as an ICU physician -- including a four-year pulmonary/critical-care fellowship in this very hospital -- I had just completed a palliative care fellowship. Now I was the hospital's palliative care consult attending. When I set eyes on the patient in room 1407, my first thought was: THIS LADY NEEDS TO BE INTUBATED, STAT! The only trouble ...

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“All your patients will die. Maybe not today, but someday.  The defining fact of life is that it ends.  Only a fool would dedicate their career to fighting something that can never be beaten.  Therefore, a doctor’s task cannot be to fight death.  A doctor’s task is to heal when possible and prevent suffering always. Our calling is to support life. Fighting death may deprive patients of the opportunity to ...

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If I were punched by an unknown man in an elevator there would be little doubt that my assailant would be prosecuted. If the trauma were enough to cause me to lose consciousness, meaning I suffered brain trauma, my attacker would likely be charged with aggravated assault. No one would be surprised if he received jail time. No one would think twice if he lost his job. However, if I ...

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The case A thirty-five-year-old female presents to the emergency department on a weekend afternoon with the following chief complaint: "I want to give up custody of my son." The patient is well dressed -- and so is her four-year-old son, who is sitting comfortably on the bed playing a video game on his mother’s cell phone. According to the patient, she is a single mother with no support system. Her son’s father deserted ...

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As a recently retired physician, I still maintain an interest in medical research, though I have to ask myself: Why? Surely not just from the point of view of a potential future patient. But not from the point of view of a practicing physician either. Perhaps I keep up just from a lifetime of habit?  Or is there something I miss about my old job? These thoughts came to mind as ...

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The astronauts are halfway to Mars when suddenly one of them develops abdominal pain and requires surgery. What will they do? According to NASA, a miniature robot capable of assisting in surgery has been developed, tested in pigs, and is soon to be trialed in a weightless environment. The robot, which weighs less than 1 pound, can be inserted into the abdomen via the umbilicus and controlled remotely. The press release from ...

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Let’s talk about expectations. And I’m talking the Dickens’ kind. When you watch television, the food flaunts itself before you. Tempting you with golden buns and perfectly placed pickles. The models eating those perfectly styled burgers are the same -- airbrushed to perfection. Most often, limbs are stretched to unrealistic proportions and curves are molded and erased to fit someone’s view of beauty. When someone first takes the baby steps to venture into ...

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