As a family doctor, I had the privilege of sitting down at the hospital recently with Mr. M, a longstanding patient of mine, and his family. Mr. M is a college-educated engineer, struggling near the end of his life with end-stage kidney disease, dialysis, severe congestive heart failure and crippling COPD. And he was pretty down about it. In the hospital, a critical care physician, a pulmonologist, a nephrologist, and a cardiologist ...

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The dark underbelly of health care is becoming all too visible now. Fresh faces in neatly pressed white coats are in the halls.  Eager.  Enthusiastic.  Clearly very bright.  All hoping for a moment, an experience, an encounter that makes all their hard work worth it.  Surely they'll have one, but not before the thousands of keyboard clicks, the mandatory lectures, rounds and lots of lengthy, lonely call nights. He was a doctor ...

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The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies has released their long anticipated 500-page report, titled ,"Dying in America – Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences near the End of Life." This is a critical addition to the ongoing conversation about health care in the United States and makes observations and conclusions, which we need to consider and understand.   They conclude, as has been said before, that we waste ...

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Britain’s most prolific serial killer was a general practitioner (GP), Dr. Harold Shipman. He wasn’t England’s most famous murderer. That accolade goes to Jack the Ripper. The Ripper killed five women in the streets of Whitechapel. Shipman might have been responsible for over 200 deaths. Shipman’s legacy to the medical profession was not just a permanent simmering of mistrust. He triggered the introduction of revalidation, Britain’s version of maintenance of certification ...

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My life changed dramatically when I started my new practice.  The biggest change personally was a dramatic drop in my income as I built a new business using a model that is fairly new.  That's a tough thing to do with four kids, three of whom were in college last fall.  OK, that's a stupid thing to do, but my stupidity has already been well-established. Yet even if the income stayed ...

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It had been crazy busy all night in the emergency department and I had been running from room to room patching holes and trying to get patients seen. I felt behind all night.  Finally, I had a moment to collect my thoughts and turned my attention to a patient who had been waiting for quite a while. This patient had multiple large and deep lacerations to his forearm, self-inflicted wounds caused during ...

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The outrageous $117,000 bill from an assistant surgeon Recently, I wondered why Medicare could not control its costs using the investigative power of the federal government instead of releasing physician payment data and relying on journalists to do the work. Two stories that appeared within days of each other raise a similar question about the private insurance industry's methods. An article in Modern Healthcare described the impending closure of ...

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Joan Rivers death: What went wrong? The ear, nose and throat specialist who treated comedian Joan Rivers on August 28 has been identified as Dr. Gwen Korovin, a prominent New York physician who is known as a voice doctor to many entertainers and Broadway stars including Hugh Jackman and Julie Andrews. With a physician who is an expert in airway anatomy at her side, and all the technologic advantages ...

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Part 2 of a series (read part 1). I realized I was entering into a process the rules of which were entirely separate from normal human interaction when it hit me that news of the lawsuit was in the newspaper before anyone had had the decency to contact me. What kind of people act like that? Civilized behavior, respectfulness -- in short, all the ways in which you'd think nice ...

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One hundred forty-nine messages. This is what I return to on my first day back from vacation. Many of them were marked with a little red arrow, indicating a high-priority phone message. Recharging with a little time off is a darn good thing, something we all need, and something which has been shown to help all of us be better at what we do. All of us, no matter what our jobs are. ...

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