She looked at me, eyes pleading, telling me without needing to say a word: I am not lying to you. I am not crazy. I am not making this up. I sighed. "We've done the work-up and know this is not your heart. I don't think there are a lot more tests that can be run." I studied her expression, trying to discern what she wanted to hear from me. I've come ...

Read more...

Next in a series. Primary care physicians (PCPs) have multiple frustrations today. The greatest frustration is “time, time, time.” From in-depth interviews with over 20 PCPs, everyone said that time or more correctly lack of time was the greatest frustration of their practice (or was previously if they now were in a practice that limited the patient number to a manageable level). Each knew that they could not give the ...

Read more...

"I feel bad ..." Amy whispered, then paused. I'm a family medicine resident, and I was doing my gynecology rotation, which involved spending a few days at a Planned Parenthood facility. This was my first day. I'd been assigned a patient to shadow: a young woman named Amy, who was here to have a first-trimester abortion. I'm a fan of Planned Parenthood's work providing high quality, affordable contraceptive and gynecological care. In ...

Read more...

Hospitals are environments where emotions can run high. These emotions cross all boundaries and can affect physicians, hospital staff, patients and their families. Dealing with an “angry” patient is a common challenge that physicians face. The first step for a physician encountering an angry patient is to remain calm and allow the patient to express his or her concerns. In my experience, “angry” patients can be viewed as falling into several ...

Read more...

It was a particularly challenging case.  On the car ride into the hospital, I found myself doing something that I rarely do.  I called a local allergist for an inpatient consult.  Most allergy issues are not an emergency.  So it is odd indeed to summon this particular kind of physician into the medical wards.  His nurse took the message and promised that she would plug my mobile number into his ...

Read more...

One of the most exciting things about working in patient safety and health care quality is that it’s not solely about advancing science or applying performance improvement methods. It is also about the excitement of being part of a social movement that is changing the culture of medicine -- putting patients at the center of everything, sharing errors in the hopes of preventing future ones, and confronting hierarchies that stifle ...

Read more...

Do we really have a looming physician shortage? We may, but even more acutely I believe we have a physician utilization problem, most particularly in primary care. After shadowing approximately 50 primary care physicians across the country and engaging physicians in conversation during 150 or so presentations on improving the delivery model of care, my observation is that 70-80% of the PCPs work output is direct waste: computer order entry, prescription processing, composing the billing ...

Read more...

A large number of pediatric practices these days use after-hours call centers for parents who have questions about a sick child. I’ve been looking around to find some data about how common this is, but my sense is that the majority of pediatricians use them. There is no question these call centers make live easier for the doctor; having somebody screen the calls, answer easy questions, and only call you ...

Read more...

If you are among the thousands of doctors who make their living as intensive care physicians, there is no normal work day with predefined hours or routine. Interruptions are the norm. Your day starts early in the morning, meeting with the ICU nursing staff and respiratory therapists long before morning rounds. Difficult clinical issues are reviewed as you and your team apply critical thinking on the challenging problems of the ...

Read more...

Over the years I have strived to develop my bedside manner.  On rounds many learners comment on this aspect of my doctoring, and these comments have led to much self reflection.  This commentary may convince some readers that I have the answers, but I do not.  Sometimes I do very well, but sometimes my skills fall short.  I do try to connect with patients and families, and give them confidence, ...

Read more...

Most Popular