Sometimes when I’m working at the hospital overnight, I go for walks. Every now and then, things calm down in the operating room, and you can get some time to relax. Life moves at such a break-neck pace, especially within the world of hospitals, that taking a moment to reflect, is beneficial. Walking around a hospital at night is very different than during the day. During the day, it feels like ...

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Once upon a time, not that long ago, there was man who lived an uncomplicated life. One morning he awoke and did not feel well. He could not really describe his malaise, but he definitely was not his usual self. Nothing particularly noteworthy had happened to him except that his dog had recently died of old age. William, a scruffy little terrier, was 17 years old, and the man knew ...

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The first time I wore a white coat was during the white coat ceremony in medical school. It was a beautiful day in New York City. Scores of young, bright-eyed medical students and their proud family members were all congregated in a ballroom, which shared its building with a bowling alley, in the heart of Harlem. It was particularly warm inside the building, and we were being served hot coffee while ...

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Doctors have several bad habits. They order piles of tests just to get a vague, unfocused view of a patient’s health. They order expensive and invasive tests to rule out the unlikely or extraordinarily rare. The worst “bad test habit” is when doctors order a test, which, no matter what the result, will not change what they are planning to do. Why do doctors over order? These same people thought a ...

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I’ve never been the doctor who yells.  However, if you work in medicine, you’ve met him or her.  I’ll call this physician "Dr. Barkus Yellby."  Dr. Yellby is angry.  A lot.  In the old days (and not so old days), he threw instruments in the OR when they weren’t what he wanted.  Or if the charts and labs weren’t ready for rounds, he slammed things on the desk and berated ...

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When I first met Mary, already in her forties, she had suffered throughout her life from an arteriovenous malformation of the face. As a result, from early childhood, she had endured the discomfort and humiliation that accompanies the stares of strangers. She came to me hoping I could improve her appearance. The abnormal connection between the arterial and venous halves of her circulatory system caused her cheek, jaw, and neck to ...

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The U.S. health care system is the world's top in health care spending per capita, but in terms of performance, we're dead last among developed countries. As a young physician embarking on a career in this landscape, it's glaringly obvious that we need disruptive innovation to create better health at a lower cost. Physicians are uniquely positioned to make critical contributions to medical innovation, but even among ...

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asco-logo I still remember her clearly. She was a wonderfully vibrant 68-year-old woman from Haiti. She was always impeccably dressed, loved to talk, and had an incredibly infectious laugh. Whenever I walked in to the clinic to see her, her eyes always seemed to smile as broadly as she did. “Nice to see you, Doc!” she would say. I ...

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“Be careful. He’s violent.” That was the way sign out began for Mr. T. The intern continued, “He has been in the hospital forever because he was kicked out of his nursing home. Good luck. And, oh yeah … he’s blind.” Puzzled, I looked at my list of patients and, not sure whether I should write “violent” by this patient’s name, I decided instead to write “blind.” I paused. The ...

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We have a problem in our clinic. Between our EMR implementation a few years ago and our PCMH recognition shortly after that, our office visit documentation has become bloated and our cycle time has almost doubled. There are no brief visits anymore, since every visit entails screening for multiple psychosocial conditions and consideration of various immunization and health maintenance reminders. Nobody sees over thirty patients a day anymore; we’re lucky to exceed twenty. That ...

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