Dear health care administrator, I am writing to you in a spirit of cooperation, because the way health care works today, it is too complex a business to manage on the side while also taking care of patients. And I hope you don’t have any illusions about medicine being so simple that non-physicians like yourself can manage patients’ health care without trained professionals who understand medical science and can adapt the ...

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My last post discussed the wide gulf between health care and the rest of the world in the area of customer service.  To sum up what took over 1,000 words to express: Customer service in health care totally sucks because the system promotes that suckiness and does nothing to penalize docs who make people wait, ignore what they say, rush through visits, and over-charge for their care.  We ...

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I just finished reading a very delightful A Piece of My Mind essay in JAMA.  JAMA is primarily a research journal, filled with new scientific or semi-scientific studies and comments on those, plus reviews of the literature and editorials on science or politics. There are also letters and announcements and educational sections for doctors or patients, even poems, but the part I like to read all the way through is ...

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The consult was for “decreased vision and eye pain.” Inpatient consults at the VA hospital come up infrequently, but when they do, it’s inevitably something interesting. As soon as I access the patient’s medical record, a flashing rectangular box encasing a smattering of phrases such as “warning,” “inappropriate behavior,” and “female employees” pops up on the screen. I’m accompanied by one of our female residents, Dr. Smith. Once we leave ...

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I was never a big prescriber of narcotics.  I grew up “country,” in a tougher world where your parents taught you to accept pain as a part of life.  Pain is how you know you’re still alive. They’d tell me, “if you’re hurtin' you ain’t dead yet.” You fell down; it was going to hurt.  You learned not to fall.  Twisted your ankle doing something stupid (and it was always ...

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Recently, former reality television star Kristin Cavallari released a potentially lethal recipe for homemade baby formula in her new lifestyle book, Balancing in Heels.  Cavallari, who rose to fame as high-schooler on MTV’s Laguna Beach, is attempting to rebrand herself as an all-organic Suzy homemaker and offering dangerous medical advice along the way. In her book, Cavallari goes against all conventional medical wisdom, advocating for feeding young babies a homemade concoction instead ...

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"Beautiful girl, you can do hard things." I saw that quote on my favorite Facebook group recently, called Physician Moms Group (or PMG). This is a group of women who, like all of us, are just trying to “do” life every day. Because of our integrity and intellect, we are trying to do it better than anyone else. I think that’s from a Type A personality, combined with leadership and wanting ...

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One year ago (read: before intern year), pretty much the most exciting part of my fourth-year emergency medicine rotation was having my pager go off. BZZZZ! I leapt into action, excitingly reading the text page: “Leg lac in E9.” I was on it. Suture kit in hand, I burst through E9’s thin emergency department curtains with abandon; I was going to fix this. The “leg lac” turned out to be a ...

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No, customer service in the U.S. is terrible when it comes to health care.  No, the customer service in the U.S. health care system is horrendous.  No, health care has the worst customer service of any industry in the U.S. There.  That seems about right. What makes me utter such a bold statement?  Experience.  I regularly hear the following from people when they come to my practice:

An excerpt from What It's Like to Become a Doctor: The Year-by-Year Journey From Medical Student to Practicing Physician, Greenbranch Publishing, 2016. I passed the board exam in November 2011 to become a gastroenterologist. This is the last exam I have to take until I recertify in internal ...

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