On July 1, 2014, I retired after 35 years in practice. Or at least so it seemed. Before and after retirement, my cardiology group asked if I might be interested in part-time work. At first I said no. Due to my retirement, a physician's poor health, and one partner's departure due to chronic complaints of being overworked and under-appreciated, the group found itself without three doctors. As my retirement approached ...

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Having just retired on July 1st, my medical group's commercial health insurance policy is no longer available to me. However, being past 65, I started a year ago applying for Medicare benefits. Despite my knowledge in this field, I had assumed this would be a snap. I also had assumed that my Medicare patients who enrolled in a Medicare HMO (Medicare Advantage) did so for purely economic reasons. My experience has ...

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This story has become all too familiar. The patient enters the ER with crushing chest pain and their EKG shows an acute MI, (known today in the colloquial as STEMI, for ST-elevation myocardial infarction). The interventional cardiologist is summoned quickly and in less than 90 minutes from the patient's arrival across the ER door threshold, he or she is on a cardiac cath lab table, where a coronary stent is ...

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Whether you are a veteran of not, the recent report of waiting lists, and possibly preventable deaths of veterans, has implications for all citizens. There is no large health system which functions perfectly. But I would say that the efficiency of any given system is inversely related to its size. If this is true, then the VA health system is, and has always been, a bureaucratic and wasteful mess. Like ...

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Recently, I attended what may have been my last quarterly medical staff meeting at my local hospital -- ever. (I am retiring from medicine in ten weeks.) I certainly wasn't there for the food, although the fare was much better than the daily servings in the doctors' lounge. Part of the night's agenda was a rousing talk by the hospital's new chief medical officer (CMO). A retired surgeon, the CMO ...

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I am not sure of the date or time of death. However, I am reasonably certain of the cause. Death was by electronic data and formatting. The victim was the time-honored physician's progress note. To be sure, these notes, even the now "ancient" written ones, were far from perfect. And they were often illegible. Shortcuts such as "as above" or AVSS (all vital signs stable) littered the pages of the ...

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Retirement is an intensely personal decision. I have done virtually nothing but medicine for the last 35 years. Oh sure, I have made some money from writing, or giving lectures and expert case reviews, but most of these are tied to medicine as well. Having just turned 65, my financial advisor says from his analysis, I can retire any time now. I have a contract with my cardiology group, which ...

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If you are like millions of Americans, at some point in your adult life, your doctor will order you to have a CT or MRI scan. Quick, easy, and painless, these invaluable imaging tests provide a vast amount and array of diagnostic information about illnesses, and direct treatment paths. However, the real pain usually begins when you receive the bill. It is not uncommon for the charges, including radiological interpretation, to ...

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A long time ago, in a bygone era, hospital discharges were simple. As a physician, you decided when to admit and discharge a patient from the hospital. Unfortunately, this process was often inefficient, costly, and subject to the whims of doctor and patient. Medicare, and other third-party payers, ultimately realized that this format made little sense and motivated keeping patients in the hospital too long. Many unethical doctors gamed the ...

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With the recent NSA admission of recording phone conversations of US citizens, there has been renewed interest in the right to privacy. For the record, it is worth recalling what the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution says. "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported ...

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