Solving the issue of tired doctors: My radical idea The problem of medical resident work-hours has vexed medical educators for decades.  The traditional model of sleep-deprived residents led to highly publicized medical mistakes, most famously the Libby Zion case in 1984. Nobody wants tired doctors caring for them. In response, various restrictions have been placed on how many hours medical residents are allowed to work.  Since 2011, for instance, medical residents were ...

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Doctor ratings need to be physician driven In the new book, Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation, physician ratings are highlighted.  This is a topic that gives many physicians some pause, and for some, causes tremendous anxiety. Whether doctors know it or not, they already have online profiles. Third-party rating sites, like Vitals or Healthgrades, already have web pages of most physicians, and they ...

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Health reformers fail to hold patients accountable for health costs To cut costs in our health system, reformers target the massive of waste.  One way to reduce waste is to change the way doctors are paid.  The fee for service payment system, they say,  encourages doctors to prescribe more expensive care, which lines their pockets and drive up the cost of care. To combat this trend, reformers often have providers in their crosshairs, ...

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Why energy drinks should be considered stimulant drugs A version of this column was published on February 3, 2013 in USA Today. I’m seeing more patients than ever consume so-called “energy drinks,” a rapidly emerging class of beverage which promise to increase energy, improve alertness, and boost attention span. The energy drink business is booming, with more than $12 billion sold last year, eclipsing established beverage categories like iced tea ...

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A virtual office visit for your cold is not a good idea A version of this column was published on January 13, 2013 in USA Today. Like many other primary care doctors across the country, I’m seeing my fair share of patients with runny noses during this winter season. I recently saw a patient for a sinus infection whom asked, “Why did I have to come in to see you? Couldn’t you have given me an ...

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What you can learn from the flu epidemic: Get vaccinated earlier The following column was published on January 11, 2013 in CNN. During the past few months, I have gently suggested to my patients that they receive the flu vaccine. Many said yes, but some declined. Today, as I look up Google's national flu trend map, I see nearly the entire country painted in an alarming red, signifying "intense" flu activity. According to ...

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Online reputation for doctors: A comprehensive social media guide I'm proud to announce my new book, co-written with Susan Gay: Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation: A Social Media Guide for Physicians and Medical Practices The Foreword is written by Robert Wachter, MD, with endorsements from Eric Topol, MD, Abraham Verghese, MD, Jerome ...

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Why you should avoid the temptation of drug coupons A version of this column was published on October 24th, 2012 in USA Today. As the cost of prescription drugs soar, more patients are turning to online coupons or discount cards from drug companies or promotional offers in magazines. In the past year, it is estimated that 19 million Americans whom took prescription drugs used such incentives to save money. The healthcare industry ...

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The following column was published on August 5th, 2012 in USA Today. A patient once blamed me for causing him considerable anxiety because he had to wait several weeks before receiving the results of a lab test, which I had ordered. Many patients commonly have to wait days, if not weeks, before getting lab results from their doctor. The delay can affect patients' health negatively. For instance, one study looked at women who underwent ...

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Localized prostate cancer treatment: Is surgery no longer an option?Prostate cancer is in the news again, thanks to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study looked at surgery versus observation for localized prostate cancer.  According to MedPage Today, "Neither overall mortality nor cancer-specific mortality differed significantly between men who had surgery and those who were prospectively followed. The absolute difference was less than ...

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