Closing a medical practice to new patients is like cutting off the very top of a tree. It’s the beginning of the end. The top of the tree, the crown, is where the newest leaves are. It’s also the part that continues growing ever upward, at least until it reaches it’s maximal genetic height, depending on environmental factors like the availability of water and sunlight (both of which also depend on ...

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Dr. Robert Centor has an important post about hubris. It’s not a long post, if you want to click through and quickly read it. It’s about the danger of overweening pride and overconfidence that can come from blindly believing the praise that is often heaped upon us by those in our care. Essentially Dr. Bob is saying that we must avoid believing all the wonderful things our patients ...

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"How many patients do you have?" I’m not sure what you mean. How many patients do I see on average each day? About twelve. "No. How many patients do you have?" Let’s see: Last week I saw about sixty patients altogether. Five of them were new patients. "No, no. How many patients do you have on your panel?" My panel? I don’t know what you mean by that. I don’t work as an employer in ...

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Poor bored government. So much time on their hands; so little real work that needs to get done, all they can do is micromanage poor physicians like me to death. Well, they can try. For its first forty-five years, Medicare was (in)famous for the very narrow limits on things it covered. It would pay for medical care when you were sick or injured, and that was basically it. No preventive care. ...

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For the moment, I still take almost all insurances in my practice. And as long as I see enough patients (i.e., as long as the phone rings) I’m doing OK. I’ve been billing electronically with a free clearinghouse for about five years now, and things are pretty good. Over all these years, I’ve only dropped one insurance company. It covered a fair number of patients, including many of my ...

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shutterstock_216140242 Question from a reader: "What are your feelings about when a patient breaks up with you? I love love my doc, but ..." Patients “break up” with me all the time. Well, not all the time, but it’s not uncommon. There are many reasons, some of which are under the patient’s control, and some which are not. Moving across the country is ...

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Life is all about beginnings and endings. One of the biggest draws of obstetrics as a medical specialty is the fascination with the birth process as the beginning of life. The other extreme ... well, let’s say in this particular place and time in history, it’s still something that catches people unaware. Too often filled with dread and loathing, we approach the death of patients as a foreshadowing of our ...

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Who is a PCP? (And does that second “P” stand for “physician” or “provider”?) Who gets to say? Does it matter? Perhaps we should start with some basic qualifications: The degree of MD or DO, the satisfactory completion of an accredited residency in family medicine, and successfully passing the written examination of the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFP, an organization distinct and independent of the AAFP). Hard to argue with those. How ...

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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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