One of the more frustrating hospital experiences is trying to reach either the doctor on call, or the covering physician, outside of business hours. And reaching the wrong doctor happens more often than you think. According to a recent study from the Archives of Internal Medicine, "14 percent of in-hospital pages were sent to the wrong physician when that physician was off duty and out of the hospital." That's a lot. Many ...

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It appears that one source of agreement among health reformers is that there isn't enough primary care doctors. The New York Times wrote a front-page piece on this issue last month, which I had commented on.  Now, an article in the Washington Post re-iterates the same theme:

As the debate on overhauling the nation's health-care system exploded into partisan squabbling this week, virtually everyone still agreed on one point: There are ...

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Not only are primary care physicians in short supply, there more evidence that they are burning out and leaving the field. According to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, "large numbers of physicians claimed a lack of control of their work, a chaotic work pace and time constraints during patient visits," and, "more than a quarter complained of burnout. More than 30 percent indicated they would leave the ...

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Two recent op-eds were recently published in The New York Times concerning medical malpractice. With health care costs spiraling out of control, there is some grudging acceptance within both the Democratic party and mainstream media that something needs to be done to fix the American malpractice system. The stance that the American Medical Association is taking, namely, exempting doctors from malpractice if they adhere to evidence-based clinical guidelines, is a good one. ...

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It was gratifying to see President Obama recently acknowledge the role malpractice plays in our failing health system, as well as admitting the presence of defensive medicine. Furthermore, The New York Times, whose editorials I've taken exception with in the past, wrote a reasonable opinion on the issue. As they admit, "The current medical liability system, based heavily on litigation, has a spotty record. It fails to compensate most ...

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Most health reformers and progressive policy experts want our health system to be more like Canada, a single payer system, or Europe, which include hybrid public-private systems. What most fail the mention is that in both these instances, malpractice systems (via DB's Medical Rants) from these countries compensate patients more fairly, and do not expose the physician to the lengthy and traumatizing litigation process that they do in America. Consider ...

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Just when you think the primary care shortage can't get any worse. Not only are there not enough primary care access to serve the almost 50 million uninsured Americans, recent numbers also show that out of 270,000 primary care doctors, almost 5,000 of them are older than the age of 75. They simply can't retire, mainly because of an inability to find a young doctor to take their place within the ...

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Emergency physician Shadowfax will be my next guest on the Live Q&A. Blogging over at Movin' Meat, Shadowfax is the pseudonym of an emergency physician in the Pacific Northwest. His blog posts are a combination of cogent health care reform analysis and opinion, commentary from the administrative side of medicine, and fascinating ER cases. He recently had a piece on health care reform published in The New York Times' Room ...

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Engineer and surgeon Catherine Mohr gives a dynamic lecture on the surgery's history and its potential future. width="446" height="326" data="http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"> Well worth listening to.

It's because of the unintended consequences, of course. In their regular column in Slate, physicians Zachary Meisel and Jesse Pines talk about the recent attention that non-profit hospitals are garnering. The problem is this. Many are acting like for-profits, and in some cases, have been caught mistreating the uninsured and those who are on Medicaid. So, when money is tight, you hear stories like this one a few weeks ...

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