An excerpt from A Quiet Death. Even as I lay perfectly still in the near-complete silence of my car, I could hear Dr. Tierney’s adenoidal voice in my mind. He always seized every opportunity to assure us that his diagnostic or therapeutic approach to patients was firmly supported by the ...

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Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), the new hepatitis drug manufactured and marketed by Gilead Sciences, has garnered considerable media attention over the last several months. The drug was approved by the FDA in December after phase III clinical trials showed it was highly effective in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C (HCV) infection. In fact, with an overall SVR (sustained virologic response) of 90 percent for the genotypes studied, Sovaldi may represent a cure for many of the 3.2 million Americans afflicted ...

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shutterstock_186952070 1. Most physicians are intellectually gifted and therefore rarely make mistakes. Perhaps Hollywood is to blame for this misconception, or maybe we simply find comfort in believing that exceptionally brilliant diagnosticians abound. Either way, I wish it weren’t a myth. But the truth is that the vast majority of physicians are average in virtually every way. Despite all claims to the contrary, ...

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“It is immoral that the wealthiest nation on the planet does not provide affordable, high-quality health care to all of its citizens. Despite being the only global ‘superpower’ still standing, we trail much of the industrialized world in life expectancy, infant mortality, and countless other indicators of health. Until we fix our broken, prohibitively expensive delivery system, things will only get worse.” I’m not sure if anyone has used those ...

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“I see you haven’t had your flu shot this year, Mrs. Adams. Would you like to get it now?” “Nice try!” she replied playfully, her warm smile conveying a serene confidence forged by seven long, difficult decades on this earth. “But you know I never get the flu shot.” “I know,” I said, still hopeful I could change her mind, “but influenza can be very dangerous, particularly in patients over the age ...

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088post I spend way too much time worrying about “silly” things, things I have no control over. I know this because my wife frequently catches me in the act and urges me to relax, to focus on what I can change. But despite her best efforts, I recently fell off the wagon again and became obsessed with a simple, seemingly innocuous question: Are physicians still ...

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Whenever a discussion of health care policy is initiated, the importance of health insurance, of extending coverage, takes center stage. The need for insurance quickly becomes an undeniable truth, a universal imperative. And no one ever seems to question this subtle premise before getting more patients fitted with shiny, new policies. This was precisely the case with the Affordable Care Act. My question, however, is simple. Where is the evidence that ...

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Legislative bodies are moving with unprecedented swiftness to ensure we lead healthier lives. From bans on soda to bans on fast food, from mandates on health insurance coverage to mandates on EMR use, from bans on trans fats to mandates on care delivery models, our governments (federal, state, and local) are supposedly helping us live well. But our current approach to health care is about as scientific as our approach to fashion -- ...

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Despite representing only 4% of the world’s population, the United States accounted for almost 35% ($326 billion) of the global market for pharmaceutical drugs in 2012. Not surprisingly, the pharmaceutical industry’s business practices, considerable marketing budgets, and substantial profits are hotly debated as part of virtually every health policy discussion. But before addressing the possibility of transcendent evil in that industry, we should pose a more mundane yet critical question: ...

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Trauma surgeons earn their patients’ respect every day, acting decisively in the face of calamity and uncertainty, heroically beating back death with steel blades and iron wills. Primary care physicians, however, have traditionally been at a relative disadvantage with regard to public opinion. After all, reconciling medication lists, reviewing lab results, and discussing health behaviors simply aren’t as exciting. In fairness, though, surgeons have always had one other advantage: anesthesia. ...

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