Years ago on Cape Cod, my kids and I stumbled across a man who had spent the day creating a sand sculpture of a mermaid. It was an impressive piece of art. “How long did it take you to make it?” we asked. While I can’t recall his precise words, the response was something like “25 years and 7 hours.” I’m sure my astute readers will get his point. We are transfixed ...

Read more...

Even the most honest among us do not tell the truth all of the time.  We are flawed human beings.  We covet, we gossip, we steal, we lie, and we stand idly by. You don’t think you steal?   Have you ever "borrowed" someone else’s idea and represented it as your own? A few weeks before I penned this, I was presented with two opportunities to lie in order to save a ...

Read more...

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” There is much truth in this quotation of uncertain provenance. We see this phenomenon regularly in the medical profession. We see it in medical journals when statistics are presented in a manner that exaggerates the benefit of a treatment or a diagnostic test. Massaging numbers is raised to an art form by the pharmaceutical companies who will engage in numerical ...

Read more...

Like nearly every gastroenterologist, we have an open access endoscopy system. This means that patients can be referred, or refer themselves, directly to our office for a a procedure without an office visit in advance. Why do we do this? We offer it as a convenience, so patients do not need to make two visits to see us when it is clear that a procedure is necessary. For example, a referring ...

Read more...

I am known by my patients and friends for my calm, imperturbable manner.  Yes, I am equipped with the full range of human emotions, but few folks have ever seen me raise my voice or demonstrate bulging next veins.  I am not suggesting this is a virtue or a character flaw, but is just the way I am wired. Sure, I get irritated and frustrated with the absurdities of life, as ...

Read more...

Of course, patients are entitled to medical care around the clock.  You would not expect to show up at 2 a.m. at an emergency room to find a "closed" sign.  If you are having chest pain on a weekend, and you call your doctor’s office, you should expect a prompt response from a living and breathing medical doctor.  Patients are aware that when they call the doctor at night, that ...

Read more...

There was a tragedy in France recently: Innocent French citizens were taken down by a profession whose mission is to heal and comfort.  A medical clinical trial careened off the rails and crashed.  Were these volunteer study patients properly informed?  Are medical study patients here in the U.S. truly making a free choice? From time to time, friends, patients, and relatives ask my advice if they should participate in a medical ...

Read more...

May I whine for a few sentences, please? My staff and I have a high-deductible medical insurance plan. As the costs of coverage increased each year, we had to find a product that we could afford for our small private practice. As any small business owner knows, margins are tight, revenue is declining and expenses inexorably rise. And physicians, unlike other retailers, cannot raise our fees. Would you want to ...

Read more...

Years ago, I was having dinner with two members of the Cleveland Orchestra, one of the finest orchestras in the world. I asked them, with my kids present, how much time they devoted to their craft. As many parents know, getting kids to commit to practicing a musical instrument is about as easy as splitting the atom. The musicians told us how much time they practiced, which was mind boggling, ...

Read more...

You see your gastroenterologist with long-standing stomach pain. You have undergone a reasonable evaluation and all the endoscopic bodily invasions, and imaging studies of your abdomen have been normal. Repeated lab work provides no clue explaining your distress. You have been twice to the emergency room and were sent home with prescriptions that didn’t work. You are frustrated and so is your gastro guy. You are convinced that there is ...

Read more...

12 Pages

Most Popular