I love being a pediatrician; there's nothing I would rather do. But sometimes I get frustrated by things that parents do -- or don't do. I'm not talking about things like being late (hey, I run late, it would be unfair to complain), or getting upset with the staff about waiting (hey, I'm going as fast as I can and what if it were your kid who needed more time?), or ...

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Walter was far older than his chronological age.  A mere thirteen years, he kept company with a much older crew.  Doctors, nurses, and CNAs were his constant companions.  The other kids on his floor were either too sick to interact, or came and left within a matter of days.  But not Walter.  His heart was too weak to allow his departure, but too strong to be first in line for ...

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My patient was an elderly farmer with severe vascular disease. He had advanced leg artery narrowing, had survived multiple heart attacks, and was admitted to the hospital after a large stroke. He was incredibly cheerful, vibrant, and optimistic. He had a very large, loving family who took turns attending to him, and encouraging him with each small improvement in his leg and arm strength. They knew his neurological exam better ...

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asco-logo She had been a patient for several years, and I still remember meeting her that first time: Her breast cancer was stage IV at diagnosis, already established in her bones; she was scared; she was in pain. Surgery was taken off the table, and she was referred for medical therapy. We had discussed prognosis, the incurableness of her cancer, ...

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One of the most notable things so many of last year’s biggest health stories have in common is that they envision an increased role for shared decision-making in primary care. Some patients will want to receive few aggressive interventions at the end of life; others will want more. Some women will be fine with waiting until age 45 or 50 to get their first mammogram; others will still want to start at ...

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Over the years, I have heard families bemoan that their relative who was just readmitted to the hospital was sent home too early just a few days ago. Are they right? First, let me say that in some instances they may be correct. It is certainly possible that the hospital, under increased pressure to kick folks out, may have pulled the discharge trigger too soon. The hospital is not always right ...

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The customer is always right, or so the saying goes. If you have ever worked in retail, you may have been frustrated by buyers who ransack neatly folded tables of sweaters and leave them strewn about like tornado wreckage. If you are in the food industry, you may be annoyed by a diner who complains his soup is too cold even as you see steam rising off the bowl. It can sometimes ...

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When I was a new attending, an older man came to see me as a new patient.  He had not seen a doctor in over thirty years and was experiencing worsening chest pain that first occurred when he walked upstairs but had progressed to pain at rest.  An electrocardiogram in the office showed signs of ischemia, and I advised him that I wanted to call an ambulance to take him ...

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"Donald passed away." We had been sitting in the chiefs’ office with a few of the attendings who had all had Donald (name changed to protect privacy) on their service at one time or another. Everybody exhaled a collective sigh, soaking in the sting of the knowledge of Don’s death; then, within a few seconds, everybody had smiles on their faces.  The smiles were born out of a personal experience with him in ...

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burnout Please stop using the word burnout. You are not burned out. You’ve been abused. Let’s get the diagnosis right. We enter medicine as inspired, intelligent, compassionate humanitarians. Soon we’re cynical and exhausted. How did all these totally amazing and high-functioning people get so f'd up so fast? Attention medical students and doctors: It’s not your fault. Burnout is physical and mental collapse caused by overwork. So why ...

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