It was a case that every physician dreads. I took a deep breath, mustered up some courage and walked towards my patient’s room. When I entered, I saw an apprehensive and anxious family who was patiently waiting for some answers. The mother was sitting at bedside with eyes closed, hands clung to a rosary and lips whispering a prayer. The patient’s sister was standing by the window, looking out with ...

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The nurse grabs me: "You have to check my patient now! She is screaming and bearing down.” Without letting go of my hand, she leads me into the labor room. I don’t even consider saying no, I know not to question this nurse. She has been a labor and delivery nurse nearly as long as I have been alive; she knows much more than I about everything. The room is dark, but ...

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As the world digested the events that unfolded aboard United Airlines Flight 3411 at Chicago O’Hare, and watched the horrific video of Dr. David Dao being forcibly dragged off the plane that was supposed to be taking him home, social media was red with rage at United Airlines. People vowed never to fly with them, customers ripped up their loyalty cards, and United’s stock fell over a billion dollars in ...

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Doctors and nurses like facts. After all, we're evidence-based thinkers — rational scientists. Yet, we can be surprisingly superstitious. Many of us believe in a thing called "call karma," which is when certain doctors attract sick patients while working on call (these people are said to have bad call karma). Other doctors attract less sick patients, meaning they have good call karma. As a medical student, I quickly learned that I fell ...

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I had an upsetting encounter the other day with a 22-year-old woman, who mentioned (secondary to the purpose of the visit) that she was pretty sure she had breast cancer. Why did she think that? She’d found a lump in her breast. (Somewhat unusually for the specific setting, she let me do a breast exam. All I felt was a small area of lumpy breast tissue, possibly a fibroadenoma at worst. Of course, ...

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Throughout my premed and medical training, I've been deluged with a steady stream of negative thoughts regarding medicine as a career from outspoken, burnt-out physicians. To this day, nine years since I've finished my residency in family medicine, I remain passionately opposed to this sentiment. I've seen statistics and mathematical calculations painting a dark picture of the financial, personal and professional world of today's physician, overwhelmed with debt, administrative nightmares, ...

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At the risk of vilification by my peers, I’m going to say something extremely unpopular. We physicians have it pretty good financially. Our salaries are generous, and we have a much higher standard of living than most others in America. When I read online physician complaints about student loan debt, I cringe a bit. Because of all the people in debt, we are some of the ...

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It is not something that is taught enough in medical school, but practicing physicians quickly realize that in this business: Communication is everything. The reality of health care is that you can be the worst physician in the world clinically (not that it’s something desirable to be), display great interpersonal skills, communicating well with your patients -- and they will do absolutely anything you say and put you up on ...

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My old strategy for getting insurance approvals for imaging tests doesn’t seem to be working anymore. I used to put my thinking in my office notes so that a reviewer at one of the imaging management companies would clearly see my rationale for ordering that CT scan or MRI my patient needed. Now I am getting more and more requests to initiate a “peer-to-peer” call instead. My heart sinks every time; each ...

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“How long have you had the bleeding?” “About seven years,” my patient replies stoically. Ange’s angular face no longer retains the beauty of her youth. The sharp lines around her mouth speak of a long life packed into a brief 42 years. She is well dressed, but her manner of speaking betrays the poverty in which she exists. Ange has advanced cervical cancer — a completely preventable disease. In fact, cervical cancer can ...

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