In days of yore, people in distress usually turned to family, friends and occasionally the clergy for help but for many years now, much of the burden of dealing with human misery has been transferred to medical professionals. Going forward and given that the iPhone and social media are ubiquitous in the daily lives of most of us, it is probably no surprise that the latest psychological support system comes ...

Read more...

Words matter. At some point, we all may have casually tossed a psychiatric adjective to describe a situation or person. There is usually no malicious intent behind the use of these colloquialisms. However, during these strange and unprecedented political times, psychiatric terms seem to be thrown around more so by those trying to paint a picture of current prominent figures. A late-night show host referred to someone as “being off ...

Read more...

Being a physician is hard. Really hard. Four years of medical school, multiple years of residency and perhaps fellowship training add up to years of working endless days in a row and powering through exhausting nights. For many of us, this need to be able to power through continues even when we finally make it as an attending. But being a patient is harder. Being the daughter or son or husband ...

Read more...

To listen to all those desperate to reform health care, you get the impression that physicians are pretty horrible people. We are all sexist, greedy, money grubbing tyrants who will perform unnecessary tests and procedures just to make money. We don't care about quality or cost. We are killing off 250,000 patients every year with our ignored "errors." We purposely keep our patients in pain, or we addict them to ...

Read more...

It was an ordinary day in clinic — I had gotten very behind schedule when a 90-year-old gentleman, who was in for his third visit in a month related to falls, came in with his equally frail wife. We had to spend extra time discussing his placement in a nursing home for safety concerns. I hastily entered the room of a 46-year-old attractive female, who was here to meet me as ...

Read more...

I work in a male-dominated field. As a cardiac anesthesiologist, I work with mostly male cardiac surgeons in a department where the majority of my fellow anesthesiologists are male. I work with some fantastic male colleagues. They are caring, skilled doctors, and I consider many of them to be friends. While most of them know how to handle emergencies, trauma and difficult work situations, many times they clam up when we ...

Read more...

I swiped this editorial cartoon by Steve Sack from the redoubtable Dr. David Gorski’s blog, who goes by the nom-de-web of Orac. Recent epidemiology shows reducing the fraction of vaccinated children in the population rather promptly leads to a resurgence of the diseases vaccines protect against. This is the concept of community or herd immunity. Epidemiologists debate ...

Read more...

In Houston, all of my colleague's offices are closed, and there is limited access to the Texas Medical Center due to Hurricane Harvey. As a virtual medical doctor, there was only one thought on my mind this entire weekend, “How can I help?” As a Floridian, I have certainly faced my share of natural disasters beginning with Hurricane Andrew, a category 5 hurricane in 1992. Living through Hurricane Andrew gave me ...

Read more...

1. Lack of confidentiality. May have to turn over medical records to others who control your career. 2. State medical boards demand to know. May be excluded from practicing medicine in that state. 3. Hospitals demand to know. May be excluded from hospital staff privileges. 4. Insurance plans demand to know. May be excluded from insurance contracts. 5. Forced into costly, ineffective, and punitive physician health programs. May have to ...

Read more...

I bought a pocket ultrasound in 2011, determined to learn how to perform and interpret ultrasound at the bedside and thus transform my internal medicine practice. I bought it new, and it cost over $8,000. That was a staggering amount of money to spend on something I knew very little about. In 2015 after having performed many thousand ultrasound exams with my little GE Vscan with the phased array transducer, ...

Read more...

Recently, there have been many times when you may have gotten a news alert on your phone or checked the latest Twitter hashtag and wanted to scream. Or you were too busy to even check until later that day and did not know what to say other than to lurk and watch a train wreck in progress. You may have thought about saying something, but paused and wondered, “Is this ...

Read more...

A white coat ceremony address to the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine, August 4, 2017. "It takes a village" is one of my favorite proverbs, an African proverb, that resonates with each of us on this monumental day. There is without a doubt that every one of you worked very hard to get into medical school. However, this difficult journey was supported by dozens of important individuals: teachers, ...

Read more...

Reformers have expended considerable effort to change the way Medicare buys health care for millions of Americans, finding a wide range of support across the political spectrum. But Medicare’s current structure may doom these reforms. Some primary care doctors fear that the skewed incentives in Medicare’s pricing system will get built into any new system, whether it is “accountable,” “affordable,” or “value-based.” This fear is well-founded. If special interests buy ...

Read more...

An exchange between former Vice-President Joe Biden and EPIC CEO Judy Faulkner at a Biden Cancer Initiative event has again elevated the discussion of patient access to their medical records. You can read the discussion on Politico. However, Biden’s main point was that patients needn’t justify their claim to their own EHR records. In fairness to Ms. Faulkner, they did express a common view: medical records are too complex for ...

Read more...

I was browsing the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, as I often do, and an article by one Andy Slavitt, MBA, and Gail Wilensky, PhD, titled “Reforming Medicaid,” caught my eye. From 2015 to 2017, Mr. Slavitt served as the Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). In that role, he oversaw the government’s awful Meaningful Use EHR program, and helped ...

Read more...

Obamacare repeal and replace is going nowhere, despite seven years of promises by Republican members of Congress. For the foreseeable future, it will remain the law of the land, along with rising insurance premiums and deductibles and fewer plans to choose from. It’s worth remembering the next time someone asks you for money to support Republican incumbents. What if the airline industry could light the runway toward fixing one of the ...

Read more...

White nationalists and neo-Nazis marched through Charlottesville, President Trump addressed the nation in what should have been a straightforward call for unity against racism and bigotry. Instead, he left us perplexed, wondering if he had just insinuated anti-racist counter-demonstrators were to blame for the violence that ensued. Trump then made explicit his intentions by attempting to spin an argument of moral equivalence between white supremacists and racial justice advocates. He ...

Read more...

We all practice medicine for different reasons. Of course, it’s almost reflexive to say we practice medicine because we care about people. I’m sure this is true for many physicians. However, if I were being honest, I think I went into medicine more because of the educational challenge. In addition, the profession yielded respect, status, money (back in the day!) and yes, an opportunity to help. I won’t challenge my ...

Read more...

Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 58-year-old man undergoes follow-up evaluation for cancer of the ascending colon diagnosed 3 weeks ago. Colonoscopy at that time revealed a fungating mass in the ascending colon. Biopsy revealed adenocarcinoma, and additional studies showed no evidence of metastatic disease. Right hemicolectomy was performed. The pathology report ...

Read more...

We are all guilty of having biases. Some of them we know about and proudly flaunt. Some of them have been ingrained so deeply that we do not even know they exist. Weight is an issue that brings out strong biases, and multiple studies have demonstrated a high level of bias from physicians against overweight and obese patients. Obese patients are often treated rudely and are not given the same ...

Read more...

Most Popular