Dear patients, First of all, thank you for calling for an appointment. Seriously. Ever since I’ve gone open access, if the phone doesn’t ring I’m toast. And thank you for your interest in preventive care. The fact that it’s now free (well, no cost to you at time of service: trust me, it’s not “free”) has probably motivated more of you to call. That’s OK. But sometimes it seems that your ...

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I’ve just finished sitting through a wonderfully aptly named lecture: Probability and Statistics, in which, among other things, we learned (again) that the utility of various clinical tests depends at least as much and generally more on the patient and condition involved than on the specific test itself. From stress tests to mammograms to PSAs, the relationships of true and false positive and negatives, positive and negative predictive values all ...

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In news to absolutely no one with an iota of common sense, the purported physician shortage isn’t actually one of numbers, but rather a problem of distribution. Per this article by in the Washington Post:

Critics of doctor shortage projections have argued for years that the problem is actually poor distribution of physicians, with too many clustered in urban and affluent areas and too few in poor and rural areas.
Doctors prefer to ...

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shutterstock_115761625 Yikes:

The Obama administration on Monday announced an ambitious goal to overhaul the way doctors are paid, tying their fees more closely to the quality of care rather than the quantity.
Holy crap: They’re really doing it. Or trying to do it. Who the hell knows what they’re trying to do? Not “them,” that’s for sure. The United States government via the Department ...

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Ever wonder what your doctor is thinking while taking your history? If we’re doing it right, we’re looking at you instead of a computer. We’re making appropriate eye contact while displaying welcoming body language. And we’re letting you tell your story with as few interruptions as possible. Clearly we are listening intently, but did you ever wonder what’s going through our minds while you’re speaking? I’ve been thinking about this lately ...

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shutterstock_156241253 It’s really quite easy to kill a doctor. Here’s a step-by-step process guaranteed to succeed at least 400 times a year: Start early. Be sure to denigrate medical students whenever possible. Even if they’ve come to the profession later in life and have accomplished all kinds of amazing things personally and professionally (which don’t count, of course, since those are other professions) they don’t know squat ...

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News non-flash: A comparison of various diets (low-carb/Atkins, low-carb + low fat/South Beach, low calorie/Weight Watchers, and whatever-the-hell-the-Zone-diet is/protein-carb ratio) shows no difference in long-term outcomes, defined as sustained weight loss, with the attendant presumed decrease in cardiovascular risk factors and events. Sorry, no great surprise here. But I think it’s because nutrition research has a huge blind spot: not adequately controlling for type 2 diabetes/metabolic syndrome. Let me explain. I have a hypothesis that ...

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It’s been a fascinating week or so listening to everyone weigh in on which response they thought I sent to my patient. The general consensus, unsurprisingly, was that the first was far too cheeky -- not to mention insulting -- to effectively convey the necessary information.  The second, of course, was the one I send every day, day in and day out. Just this once, circumstances conspired to allow me to send the ...

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shutterstock_144790756 Middle-aged lady, twenty pounds overweight.

Doing everything I can, doctor. Everything imaginable. Diet: I eat practically nothing. Exercise: all the time! Weight Watchers doesn’t work. Jenny Craig, South Beach, the Zone; I’ve tried it all. Nothing works. Have to lose weight. Have to lose weight.
Yada, yada, yada. Oh look: A few years back I diagnosed you as hypothyroid and gave you some Synthroid. ...

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I have a patient who is a full blown sufferer of health anxiety. He firmly believes he has full-blown AIDS after a single extramarital sexual contact (non-genital) one month prior with a woman not known to have HIV. (Reality check: The other person didn’t have HIV, the specific contact as described was ridiculously unlikely to have transmitted the virus had it been present, and AIDS takes months to years to develop ...

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