A 32-year-old woman recently came to see me for an opinion on stomach pain.  Why would I refuse to see her again?  Abdominal pain is an everyday occurrence for a gastroenterologist.  She was accompanied by her mother.  I had never met this woman previously. She had suffered abdominal pains for as long as she could remember.  She recalled frequent visits with the school nurse when she was a young girl. She has abdominal distress ...

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The world is asunder.  Iraq is sinking into a sectarian abyss.  ISIS, a terrorist group, now controls a larger territory than many actual countries.  Russia has swallowed Crimea and has her paw prints all over eastern Ukraine.  China is claiming airspace and territories in Southeast Asia increasing tensions with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.  The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is in another deep freeze.  Terrorists in Sudan and Nigeria are kidnapping ...

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One of the frustrating aspects of medical practice is trying to decide if the medication I am prescribing is covered by the patient’s insurance company. Even with the advent of electronic medical records, which should be able to determine this, we are often left to hope and pray. Here’s how it works. Individual insurance companies have formularies -- lists of approved drugs -- that they encourage patients and their physicians to use. ...

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If you read my articles, then you likely know about the scam known as pay-for-performance (P4P).  This program not only fails to deliver on its stated mission to improve medical quality, but it actually diminishes it. In short, P4P pays physicians (or hospitals) more if certain benchmarks are met.  More accurately, those who do not achieve these benchmarks are penalized financially. I do not object to this concept.  Folks who perform ...

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Every player in the medical arena has found itself challenged by conflicts where one’s self-interest competes can skew what should be pure advice.   This issue is not restricted to the medical universe.  Every one of us has to navigate through similar circumstances throughout the journey of life.  If an attorney, for example, is paid by the hour, then there is an incentive for the legal task to take longer than ...

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Why does is seem that so much information given to us comes with disclaimers? The weight loss product ads on TV that promise more than they will deliver, are always accompanied by 5 nanosecond disclaimers in a font size that can’t be discerned by the human retina stating that the results are not typical. It seems deceptive to be advertising a product by showcasing a performance that the vendor admits is ...

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Remember personal responsibility? There actually was an era of responsibility when folks admitted when they screwed up and didn’t blame others for their own mistakes. I know this may seem incredible to the younger generation who simply assume that when something goes wrong today, it must be someone else’s fault. In today’s culture, this is not scapegoating, but the pursuit of justice. Welcome to the era of big victim. In the ...

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I've been in the medical malpractice arena many times, and always walked away unharmed. If this system were presented in front of a fair minded and impartial jury, it would be dismantled. Sure, there are positive elements present, but they are dwarfed and suffocated by the drawbacks. The self-serving arguments supporting the current system are far outweighed by the financial and emotional costs that innocent physicians unfairly bear. Tort reform ...

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Readers know that I am skeptical over the efficacy of complementary and alternative medicine. This is not merely a demonstration of my inborn skepticism, but doubt based on the fact the so much of their claims are untested, unproven and refuted. I don’t regard the above comment as controversial. It is factual. I’ll let readers decide if it is but another example of the arrogance of conventional physicians who worship on ...

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Physicians and patients collaborate to treat symptoms. This is not newsworthy and even sounds appropriate. Isn’t that what doctors are trained to do? It is but I’m not sure this should be a central focus of our healing mission. Treating a symptom is not the same as treating a disease. For example, if an individual is having abdominal discomfort, pain medicine should not be the first responder, even if this would ...

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