Even if no life was saved, an ER physician makes a difference I walk out of the patient room.  My eyes stare at the computer screen.  I’m behind, way behind.  I roll my head on my neck.  My neck feels tense, and I have a headache.  It’s been a long week.  I need a vacation.  Hurry up, click-click-click this computer, I think to myself.  Dammit, is this EMR really freezing up again? I look ...

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In an article entitled, ”Why the ER admits too many patients,” Dr. Michael Kirsch tries to explain that emergency department admissions are inflated due to emergency physicians acting in their own self-interest.  Many emergency physicians have read this and taken offense, feeling that his assertions point unfair blame on them for a significant portion of excesses in medical care and costs.  I share this visceral reaction in part, but ...

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I was a work today and I was given this message, “ —–'s husband called and wants you to call back right away!  He sounded very upset.  His wife died.” Uh oh, I thought to myself, this is never good.  It was a patient I remembered well, that I had seen repeatedly for a chronic problem, and who always came with her husband.  We seemed to get along well.  I didn’t ...

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I can’t tell you that the “patient satisfaction obsession” is suddenly going to focus on patient health over profits and start being applied fairly to doctors and nurses. I can’t tell you that someday politicians, administrators and insurance companies will wake up and see things the way you and I do. I can’t tell you that someday, all the demands for inappropriate medications, tests and treatments will end. I can’t tell you that ...

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The focus on patient satisfaction is enough to make you sick All patients should be treated with professionalism and respect.  We all want our patients leaving our care happy, healthy and satisfied, if at all possible.  However, sometimes patients don’t leave an emergency department very happy or satisfied.  Sometimes the doctor could have prevented it, but many if not most times, such dissatisfaction has little if anything to do with what the ...

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I open my car door to walk in to work. I’ve never heard crickets as loud as the ones this summer in Georgia. A wall of steam-heat blasts me simultaneously as a giant bzzz! bzzz! dive-bombs my ear. Man, it’s hot in Georgia. And the bugs! I think to myself. I walk slowly towards the ED doors, barely moving, but still breaking a sweat. I walk through the double doors now ...

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Don’t ask me nothin’ about nothin’, I just might tell you the truth.  – Bob Dylan I just read an interesting post by Dr. Jennifer Gunter. Apparently, the entirety of what we are doing here at Dr. Whitecoat, and on internet communities and blogs like Student Doctor Network and Sermo, is unethical, according to the General Medical Council in Britain. How dare we not use our real names on social media as physicians and physicians-in-training? According to ...

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My shift is over and I’m ready to head out the emergency department door.  When I walked in 12 hours ago, the department had 20 waiting patients.  I look up at the monitor and after 12 hours of trying to wrestle the department under control, not only is it not under control, now we’re 25 patients deep in the weeds.  My partner Dr. Jim looks at me and says, “Get ...

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Off I go to work a few shifts at a desperately understaffed rural hospital in a state far away.  The rental car GPS leads me to the ED address and it’s not there.  All that is there is what looks like a small supermarket with a funeral home next door.  I see a security guard in the parking lot.  He has a lump in his cheek and a badge that says “Sam.”  ...

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My kid and I are outside in the front yard blowing bubbles, enjoying the blue skies and 70 degree weather when she says, “Cool Daddy! Look, there’s a police car coming down the street. Oh, cool! I think he’s coming to see us!” Uh, oh, I think to myself. Despite my kid’s excitement, I know that rarely does anything good come delivered by a policeman. My wife is inside, my one ...

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