If you are a physician like me who performs procedures, then rarely you will cause a medical complication. This is a reality of medical life. If perforation of the colon with colonoscopy occurs at a rate of 1 in 1,500, and you do 3,000 colonoscopies each year, then you can do the math. Remember that a complication is a blameless event, in contrast to a negligent act when the physician is ...

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Is your doctor a hammer and you're a nail? Here's some insider advice coaxing patients to be more wary and skeptical of medical advice. Should you trust your doctor? Absolutely. But you need to serve as a spirited advocate for your own health or bring one with you. Ask your physician for the evidence. Sometimes, his medical advice may result more from judgement and experience as there may not be ...

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Is much of the annual physical a waste of time? So much in medicine and in life is done out of habit.   We do stuff simply because that’s the way we always did it.  Repetition leads to the belief that we are doing the right thing. In this country, we traditionally eat three meals each day.  Why not four or two? We prefer soft drinks to be served iced cold.  I’ve never tried ...

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I’m all for free speech and I’m very hostile to censorship.  The response to ugly speech is not censorship, but is rebuttal speech.   Of course, there’s a lot of speech out there that should never be uttered.  Indecent and rude speech is constitutionally protected, but is usually a poor choice.    We have the right to make speech that is wrong. I relish my free speech in the office with patients.   I ...

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California is contemplating requiring physicians to submit to alcohol and drug testing.   Citizens there will be voting on this proposal this November. I do think that the public is entitled to be treated by physicians who are unimpaired.  Physicians, as members of the human species, have the same vices and frailties as the rest of us. I have no objection to this new requirement, if it passes. This will not be ...

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Our nation is highly polarized today, and often bitterly so.  Democrats rail against the GOP.  Pro-lifers face down pro-choicers.  Fox News disses MSNBC.  Isolationists push back against expansionists.  Traditionalists disdain the politically correct.  Free marketers duel against government advocates.  Carnivores deride the gluten-free crowd.  Martin Bashir trashes Sarah Palin, two proxies in a culture war. There's a philosophical divide among physicians also.  Would you prefer a liberal physician or a conservative ...

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I’m a law abiding blogger. Laws are meant to be obeyed. If an individual opposes a law in a free country, then he should operate within the system to modify it. I recognize that even in free societies, certain laws are so unjust and in violation of natural law that that the citizenry may be justified in relying upon other measures to affect necessary reform. I’m not suggesting that an unwelcome ...

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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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