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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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, ...

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I was recently sent a link to this article entitled “Smile! You’ve Got Cancer” written by Barbara Ehrenreich.  I encourage everyone to read it. The article lives up to its striking title and more.  And I couldn’t help but respond with my perspective. So that you know where I’m coming from, my most personal encounter with cancer is that my grandmother died from cancer. I also treat people with acute ...

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One good thing about doing anything for three decades or longer is that you get to see cycles and repeated events, things that fail and things that work. I hope that over the last thirty years of learning about psychiatry and mental health (and yes, I am still learning and hope to acquire that one last little piece of knowledge on my deathbed) that I have paid attention to the ...

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Improving patient satisfaction and enhancing the hospital experience is all the buzz today in health care. Every hospital executive across the country is talking about it, and coming to terms with how their organization’s reimbursements will be directly tied to their performance in this area. A decade ago, none of us had ever heard of HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) scores, the core metric by which health ...

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