As physicians, we are charged with extending empathy to our patients. In addition to a professional responsibility, empathy is also a mechanism for improving patient care and professional satisfaction. It has been associated with better patient satisfaction, clinical outcomes, fewer medical errors and lawsuits, as well as provider happiness. However, while physicians can be expected to pursue the ideal of empathy towards individual patients, that of empathizing with populations is ...

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I was saddened to hear that one of my favorite libertarians, the wonderful journalist John Stossel, has taken ill. True to form, however, he's taking it in stride (he nonchalantly quipped, "seems I have lung cancer"), and I want to take this opportunity to wish him very well indeed. I enjoy his reporting and writing, and have learned a great deal from Mr. Stossel over the years. But that doesn't mean he's always ...

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The changes to health care -- not just in policy, regulation, and payment but also the tectonic shifts in how we define, evaluate, report and are paid for care -- can make us all feel like we’re on a runaway train. Alongside the runaway train are the significant improvement opportunities in health care we must somehow address -- less variance, improved patient engagement, coordination of care, adherence to evidence, waste reduction ...

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Having been a nurse for over 18 years, I have endured a few Nurses Week. At first, I was lured into the charm of my first Nurses Week bag. I had finally arrived: My first official nurse's bag. I had arrived and for a full week, the folks at the hospital seemed to actually appreciate what we did for our patients. After a few mugs, key chains, beach towels and ...

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american society of anesthesiologistsA guest column by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, exclusive to KevinMD.com. “I said, ‘Somebody should do something about that.’  Then I realized I am somebody.” - Lily Tomlin Each day, family, work and extracurricular activities all compete for our attention. They are positive aspects of our lives but can be overwhelming at times.  When legislative or regulatory ...

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For decades and decades we have been counting the number of doctors in America. For decades and decades we have been coming up short compared to other developed nations, and some less developed ones as well. A poorly educated person may be tempted to suggest that we should “make” more doctors. After all, there is hardly a shortage of young people willing and able to undergo the rigors ...

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CMS states it wants to increase pay to primary care physicians.  And while we might quarrel with their strategies or with the speed of achieving the goal, few would quarrel with the goal itself.  In recent years, CMS has developed HCPCS codes and adopted CPT codes, some limited to primary care and some not specialty restricted but all likely to be reported by primary care practices. Meanwhile, although payment systems ...

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A recent article suggested that the use of observation status for a hospitalized veteran was a dishonor to his years of service to our country because observation was going to subject him to higher out of pocket costs. This post created quite a lot of discussion and debate. While I agree with the author and commenters that observation is confusing to all and that there has to be ...

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My dad was recently diagnosed with cancer. Overnight, he found himself faced with tough care decisions, small insurance crises, and the overwhelming bureaucracy of cancer. He was also about to become tasked with managing a daily care routine far outside the scope of his usual morning ritual. Since his diagnosis, he has returned to the hospital twice with pneumonia. While many cancer patients become prone to bacterial infections due to a ...

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Lena Wright’s best friend was hunched over like a character from a French novel, with spinal bones so thin they would fracture with a fit of sneezing. Determined to avoid that fate, Wright (a pseudonym) asked her primary care doctor to test her for osteoporosis with a DEXA scan, also known as dual energy x-ray absorption. The scan would send two x-ray beams through her bones, one high-energy and the ...

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