I recently reported on Stephanie Waggel, the doctor fired by a prestigious U.S. hospital for getting cancer (story also the Washington Post). In a transcription of her whistleblower video, Stephanie describes how she nearly died due to obstruction of medical care: It started during my intern year of residency. Which, bizarrely, was the happiest year of my life. And all my friends are like, “You’re an ...

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The national Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) strives to “recognize students, residents and faculty who are exemplars of compassionate patient care and who serve as role models, mentors, and leaders in medicine.” This society relies initially on a validated peer nomination tool to identify medical students who embody clinical competence, caring, and community service. Upon discovering this emphasis on peer nomination, I began to question my own humanism, wondering which ...

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My brother-in-law, Ron, was a curmudgeon; grumpy, sullen, even downright mean at times. By blood, he and my husband Bill were cousins. In the 1950s, when Bill was just a child, his mother died unexpectedly, and Ron's mother took Bill in to live with her and her four children. They were an African-American family living in the midst of a middle-class, predominantly white Connecticut township. Their home, located on a wealthy ...

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Bringing a child into the world is nothing short of a miracle. It’s not comforting to think about, but even if you do everything “right,” there can always be circumstances beyond your control. Whether you have been told to plan for a stay in the NICU or it’s unexpected, here are survival tips from nurses for orienting yourself to the NICU. 1. Try to see your baby as soon as possible. It ...

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I was thrilled when I found out that February 3rd is officially National Women Physician Day. Then I realized that February 3rd coincided with the 195th birthday of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree in America. Dr. Blackwell had the strength and determination of a superhero. She faced extreme opposition, was rejected numerous times, and was still seen as an oddity and inferior when she was ...

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“CODE BLUE, 7 SOUTH. CODE BLUE, 7 SOUTH.” I’m up and out of my call room bed before fully regaining consciousness from my light sleep. It’s 4 AM. I should feel ready: I’ve trained with simulations labs, mock codes, and test questions. I passed my CPR and ACLS courses. I’ve done chest compressions as an intern. But this is different. I’m the resident on call, and if I get there first, I’ll be running the ...

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The report from the field was not promising by any stretch: extensive trauma, and perhaps most importantly unknown “downtime” (referencing the period where the patient received no basic care like CPR). The patient remained pulseless en route; we were all aware of the markedly poor prognosis. On arrival, the patient was swarmed by providers. Trauma surgeons at the foot of the bed cut down at the femoral artery to deploy a ...

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Maintenance of certification (MOC) is on the minds of most doctors, and the majority of them oppose it. This is a program where doctors are enforced to comply with certain “educational” mandates to stay compliant with their board certification requirements. The largest number of doctors did not start off following this program but rather were shackled onto it later in their careers. Being one of the earliest voices speaking out against ...

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On January 21, 2017, the day after the 45th President of the United States was inaugurated, hundreds of thousands of women and men marched in thousands of cities across this country and others to stand up for rights of women, men, and countless groups that have been ostracized or are at risk for losing rights, representation, or critical funding. I watched my Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds throughout the day. ...

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Back in September, an Inside Stanford Medicine article featured my first-year medical school class on our first day of anatomy. It spoke of learning anatomy and having the privilege to work on real donors’ bodies as a “rite of passage,” something all medical students must do to really discover the human body. We were all very excited, yet timid, on that first day of anatomy class, I remember. Afraid ...

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We are currently in the midst of the worst drug crisis in American history. A crisis that killed more than 33,000 people in 2015. Currently, an estimated 2.6 million people are addicted to opioids. As an internal medicine doctor, I deal with pain, addiction and opioid overdoses on a routine basis. The current epidemic that is sweeping across our nation, is deeply concerning. The U.S. Surgeon General recently spoke about the epidemic ...

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For much of her adult life, Cassie (not real name) struggled to get out of bed. Taking her kids to school, let alone showering or preparing meals was often more than she could handle. Cassie has bipolar disorder, and while she had health insurance through her employer, it did not offer mental or behavioral health benefits.  The therapy and prescriptions she needed were too expensive. She was desperate, barely holding ...

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Dear patients, We are happy to have you in our lives.  We came into medicine to take care of you.  Some of us because we wanted to help you to win the fight against cancer.  Others of us because we love delivering your babies.   Others because we wanted to have the skill to make sure you survive that heart attack or that terrible accident.  Others because we wanted to do our ...

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I recently read a book by Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz a UCLA cardiologist who also happens to be a consultant for the Los Angeles Zoo. In her book Zoobiquity, Dr. Natterson-Horowitz demystified the story of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) transmission from monkeys in West and Central Africa to humans. Most physicians today, including me, have a limited knowledge of zoonosis (the science surrounding bugs that can be from animals to humans) ...

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Who Retires at 30 to 35? Retiring after a career of zero or a few years may sound ludicrous, but there are a few scenarios that are not so far-fetched. The stay-at-home spouse. A handful of physicians complete residency, but never pursue employment, often choosing to start a family instead. I know one physician who made this choice at age 29, actually. The suddenly wealthy. A large windfall at the beginning of one’s ...

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Longtime readers know of my fascination with the affect heuristic. Simply stated, we overvalue the benefits of a concept that we like, and underestimate the problems or vice versa. This article about direct primary care induces conflicting analyses: "Here is the PCP crisis solution, and it’s simple." I like the idea based on this reasoning. Primary care in 2017 has several problems. Both physicians and patients have dissatisfaction with ...

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It’s almost 7 p.m., and I’m handed the chart of a man in his sixties. “Can you see this one first,” the nurse says, “he needs an ultrasound.” I skim the triage note, which is often like reading the blurb at the back of the DVD. If it says “pain all over for eight months,” it’s not likely to be a hot new rental. Frank Martin (name changed) has been sent from a walk-in ...

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Bashing the Veterans Administration (VA) health care system has become a familiar pursuit following the 2014 expose regarding concealed wait times and concerns for substandard care.  In the aftermath of the ensuing national scandal, Congress passed reformative legislation, and President Obama appointed Robert McDonald Secretary of the VA. A 2016 report from the Harvard Business School indicates that the Secretary has “made impressive progress over the past year.” Numerous veterans ...

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I recently consulted a specialist at a major medical center in New York, and a few days later, here came a questionnaire in the mail. "How much time did I spend in the waiting area?" it asked. How long was I kept waiting in the examining room? How close to my appointment time did the doctor see me? The one thing it didn't ask was whether I cared. There's no mystery about ...

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Carrie Fisher’s sad, premature death is an occasion to reflect upon the poor job the news media does in reporting medical news. The initial report from TMZ had the headline “Carrie Fisher Massive Heart Attack on Plane.” If one equates “heart attack” to the more precise medical term “myocardial infarction,” as is usually done, then this is certainly diagnostic overreach on the part of TMZ. From their report, ...

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