I recently watched the movie Sully. It was the first time I’d ever watched a movie on its actual release date. Knowing what a legendary actor Tom Hanks is, and what a fascinating and near-tragic story unfolded on January 15, 2009, I felt confident that my choice to venture out to the cinema on a beautiful Boston September evening, would be a good one. The movie sure didn’t disappoint. Brilliantly directed ...

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As rheumatologists, we pride ourselves on spending time with our patients, listening to their problems and their family’s problems, and answering all of their questions. Whenever my husband and I run into a patient of mine on the street, they always tell him that I am the best doctor ever. In spite of these accolades, I realized recently I was guilty of doing something with a handful of my patients ...

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On my last day of internal medicine residency, as I finished my senior grand rounds presentation, I “came out” to my colleagues and confessed the deep dark secret I had been hiding since medical school: I have fibromyalgia. A few jaws literally dropped, and there was an awkward silence, then polite applause. Afterwards several of my colleagues came up to talk with me privately and were offended and/or curious as to ...

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Early on a random Tuesday morning, I walked into the burn unit and found my 87-year-old patient, Mr. Gray, in septic shock. While Mr. Gray’s burn injury was small by our standards, it appeared that the sequelae of the injury might prove fatal. I called Mr. Gray’s wife to obtain consent for a vascular catheter through which I planned to begin continuous dialysis and was surprised when she declared, “No ...

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It was several years ago. I was a first-year internal medicine resident. Keen, tired, overworked, and still idealistic. Mr. Smith was a 45-year-old lawyer who rolled into St. Paul’s Hospital Emergency room, while our medicine team was on intake. He was a healthy appearing lawyer who noted that for the past month he had become more short of breath performing his regular exercise. Things were especially bad for him during ...

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Many of us harbor an archaic view of what health care is, so let me offer a little history. During the past century, it's changed from Healthcare 1.0 to 2.0, and now it's Healthcare 3.0. In the early twentieth century, Healthcare 1.0 was a service, though it amounted more to personal contact than effective medicine. At best, medications and procedures were hit-and-miss, so doctors relied heavily on their relationship with their ...

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You start out by working in a busy emergency department. You see patients with all sorts of complaints: abdominal pain, headaches, and chest pain. Vomiting, diarrhea, and dysuria. Ankle sprains, bug bites, and allergic reactions. Domestic violence, rape, and child abuse. You don’t ever let the stress of the job take away your humanity. You treat your patients with empathy and respect. You listen to their stories, treat their symptoms, contact the police, ...

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When Kara Tippetts, a 38-year-old mother of four, died of breast cancer last year, more than 17,000 people live-streamed her funeral. Tippetts gained national prominence through her blog, where she confronted her impending death directly and offered a refreshingly frank take on what it's like to have a terminal disease. Unfortunately, the openness Tippetts displayed is usually missing where it's needed most: hospitals. Doctors, nurses and other caregivers are often reluctant ...

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OK, I’ll admit it. I’m a doctor “I work at a hospital.” Those words had left my mouth a hundred times before, and yet on this late summer day, I paused to actually think about them. Why I was saying them, what I really meant, and what I should have said instead. I was making conversation with someone I had just met. The inevitable question, “So, what do you do?” was asked, and ...

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The Haitian doctors’ strike ended recently, and it is unclear if there are any winners. The conditions in which the striking doctors -- medical residents in Haiti’s public hospitals, to be precise -- work are appalling, and the low pay was galling, but without the doctors, hospitals shut their doors and the poor were left to take care of their own illnesses and injuries for nearly five months. At issue were ...

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