shutterstock_229011745People ran to the church for refuge in Medieval times. It was considered a place of safety, a sanctuary from civil punishment. In the church, one could claim a right to justice, food, water and shelter. That role was recognized by church and government authorities alike; doubtless sometimes grudgingly as the wanted escaped harsh punishments. These days, America's emergency rooms have filled ...

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shutterstock_145891352 Recently, allegations have been spread by women who claim that as teenagers, they were sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby. Some have not made any mention of these crimes until decades later; while others have said that they did report the allegations at the time of the assault, but were not believed. Due to Cosby’s notoriety as a celebrity, this has fueled ...

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shutterstock_69679648 I was a fourth-year surgery resident, on the transplant team. It was a difficult rotation, because the doctor who ran it was sexist and got along better with you if you flirted with him. He made innumerable sexual wisecracks in the OR while we were working, and preferred to round with his arm around me as he made further innuendoes. I wasn’t ...

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shutterstock_168773126 Whenever possible I make a point of rounding on patients with their nurses present. I rely on nurses to be my eyes and ears when I’m not at the bedside. I need their input to confirm patient self-reports of everything from bowel and bladder habits to pain control, not to mention catching early warning signs of infection, mental status changes, or ...

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In 1978, under the pseudonym Samuel Shem, psychiatrist Stephen Bergman published “The House of God,” an iconic novel drawn from his medical internship in Boston in the early 1970s. Earlier this year, Dr. Bergman spoke at the commencement of the New York University School of Medicine. With his permission, the following is adapted from those remarks. I began writing The House of God as a catharsis, to make sense of what seemed like the worst year of my life. These are ...

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shutterstock_156017414 The conversation was almost comical, until I thought more deeply about it later.  Apparently I was on "the list."  Insurers make such lists for customers who are  searching for a doctor who accepts their coverage.  Every so often my name comes up on these lists, and I get a smattering of phone calls from perspective patients. Maybe a few times a ...

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Once upon a time, in a medical school far far away, I was taught that my sacred oath was to the patient.  The one patient; not the patient down the hall, in the next town, or in a country halfway around the world.  I would commit my heart, soul, sweat and blood to the suffering and healing of the person directly, immediately in my care.  This was a noble calling ...

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shutterstock_164594111 An article from the JAMA has been gnawing at my consciousness for the last couple of weeks. Dr. Prashant Kaul and colleagues out of the University of North Carolina reviewed records from hospitals in the state of California from 2008 through 2011, looking for patients who had been hospitalized with heart attacks. Specifically, they were looking for patients with ST elevation ...

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Standing in front of my patient’s home, I reach out to ring the bell. On the other side of the door live a man and his wife, who have been waiting patiently for my arrival. I hesitate for a moment before pressing the button. As I wait uneasily for the door to open, I think to myself that this is the first time I make a house call on my patient ...

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On September 4th, 2014, iconic comedian and TV personality Joan Rivers passed away due to complications following what seemed to be a routine visit to her gastroenterologist. Up until now, a wave of speculation and mystery has surrounded her case with a trove of unanswered questions. What happened on that tragic day? What kind of procedure did she have? Was it a dangerous surgery? Who was in the room? On October 16th ...

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