41NmPFjOxXL._SL250_ An excerpt from The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly.  Warning: Contains explicit language. It started with a banana peel. After years of quiet study in the libraries, laboratories, and lecture halls of Harvard Medical School, I finally made the tectonic shift to hospital life in the summer of 2006. The third year of medical school marks a ...

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shutterstock_11459362 The girl seizes. Her body torques and twists and jerks about like a snake trapped on an electric fence. She flops back and forth on the gurney before us, her pale forehead glistening with sweat, her brown hair wetted black from the effort of muscle contractions that threaten to tear apart her tiny frame. Trauma room two is silent save for the gluck-gluck-gluck of her ...

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The following article is satire. In the first application of a new “reverse AMA” system put into place to improve patient satisfaction, a patient was admitted to the hospital for the first time against the wishes of her treating ED physician.  Constance Dolor, a 37-year-old morbidly obese patient with chronic unexplained pain and a frequent visitor to the emergency department, became the first person in known history to be admitted the ...

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shutterstock_175876592 It came out of nowhere. One of those life lessons that I didn’t know I needed to learn. Until I did. There I was, at a weekend business retreat, hobnobbing with a group of women executives. Feeling only slightly out of my element. Trying to blend in. There was a break in the meeting. And what happened next made me rethink how ...

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Behind every doctor is a little boy or girl who once watched helplessly. Maybe it was her father or grandfather who suffered under the weight of a disease that was deemed all but incurable. Perhaps her own skin was battered and bruised by the repeated trauma of an unrelenting tourniquet.  She swore that when (if) she got older she would protect the innocent from such things.  Her vow was the ...

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The other day some cardiologists on Twitter were discussing whether a patient should be blamed if a permanent pacemaker lead became displaced. The consensus seemed to be that it was probably poor placement (i.e., operator error), rather than patient behavior that caused leads to dislodge. The discussion reminded me of an attending plastic surgeon of mine during my resident days. He was one of the most obsessive-compulsive people I ever met. ...

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shutterstock_127842695 Over the course of pre-professional and professional education, my colleagues and I have had numerous moments of self-doubt.  Would the next organic chemistry exam eliminate my 3.99 GPA?  Would the MCAT decide what medical schools would immediately ignore me without ever meeting me?  Would the sheer volume of material weed out the persons sitting next to me in medical school or ...

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Medicine is obsessed with numbers.  Or rather, journalists and medical administrators are.  Here are two related examples of how large a grain of salt one must put on numbers. Cardiac surgical procedures, like everything else in medicine, have quality indicators.  One of these is what we doctors call “30-day mortality.”  What this term means is that surgeons are evaluated in part on how many of the patients they operated on died ...

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Question: My family (including two small children) and I are relocating this summer for my husband’s new job after seven years of living in the same area for residency and fellowship to a city where I know no one. I am scared about leaving our support network of friends and family nearby. Can you offer advice on starting over in a new place? Answer: I would guess that almost every physician family has ...

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An iconoclast must not only have abundant common sense but the gift of the gab to state the obvious. Simply stating won’t do. You must rub it in.

My favorite iconoclasts are Peter Skrabanek and Thomas Szasz. Skrabanek was a general practitioner who authored Death of Humane Medicine and Rise of Coercive Healthism. Szasz, a psychiatrist, who volunteered that he entered psychiatry to unveil its pseudoscience, is the Voldermort ...

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