The unexamined life is not worth living. –Plato There are obstacles to dignity at the end of life.  Disease inflicted pain and debilitation, cost and confusion, poor planning and fear, all aggravated by our societal ignorance regarding dying, result in unneeded suffering and isolation.  In addition, it occurs to me that a hindrance to control and quality is that we are overwhelmed by the pressure of our day-to-day lives.  In other words, ...

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When I first heard of the tragic accidental shooting death of a 2-year old girl by her 5-year old brother, at first I thought it was because some adult left their gun out and was not supervising the children properly. Not too many things surprise me anymore, but this time I was surprised when I found out that poor supervision was only part of the issue and that the 5-year-old was ...

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violin2 As I sit on this old wooden pew, I rock side-to-side to ensure that blood flows to each part of my bottom. We've been at this rented church for 75 minutes listening to the sounds of my daughter's violin class recital and now it's time for the last piece. A high school student with a large tattoo of a stanza on her left ...

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The real problem is not whether machines think, but whether men do. - B. F. Skinner When I was a relatively junior member of the surgical faculty, an even more junior member came to my office and announced that a general surgeon and gynecologist in Georgia had performed gallbladder surgery with a laparoscope. “Stupid stunt,” I snorted, or something equally derisive and all-knowing. Some weeks or months later he returned to the topic, telling ...

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R6070_d_1 You might think a thing sold by a huge manufacturer of children’s toys and furniture as a “sleeper” would a safe, appropriate place for a baby to sleep. It is, after all, called a “sleeper.” But it is not a safe place for your baby to sleep. The Fisher Price Newborn Rock ‘n Play Sleeper is a sling-shaped baby holder sort of gizmo, ...

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A few years ago, I sat in a coding lecture for urgent care providers given by a very entrepreneurial physician assistant. An emergency room doctor, who had recently established his own private clinic, put up his hand to ask a question. He seemed puzzled. “I can see your point about coding at a higher level for a sore throat when I was younger,” he said. “I used to take longer to ...

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Bobby was admitted to the hospital once again with overwhelming fatigue and shortness of breath. Yet this 37 year old farmer looked the picture of health. He grew up on a farm rising before dawn, milking cows and working long days in the fields with hay or corn. He was never seriously ill as a child and was a good football halfback in high school. But this was his third admission ...

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I write a lot about end of life conversations that go well or have unexpectedly positive outcomes. But to be fair and balanced, you should also hear about the ones that don't go so well, lest you be led to believe that I have magical powers over my patients and their families. Here are two of my attempted end of life map conversations that did not go over so well. In fact, ...

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I was listening to CBS This Morning recently as they were interviewing Alan Alda. He was discussing his acting career and being the host of Scientific American’s Frontiers (airs on PBS stations). Alan Alda relayed a personal story of his, having an intestinal blockage while he was filming an episode in Chile. As he relayed this incident, he spoke of the physician who told him that he was going to remove the ...

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Like my fellow Connecticut residents still shaken by the Newtown shootings, I was excited and relieved when Connecticut Senate Bill 1160 (“An Act Concerning Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety”) passed. The law establishes a dangerous weapons offenders registry and requires a universal background check for all gun purchases. Those wishing to purchase long guns will need an eligibility certificate which requires fingerprints, a firearms safety training course and a ...

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