The American hospital as we know it is in peril I appreciate the need for physicians and others to sleep.  I’ve spent a great deal of my career awake in the wee hours.  In some very real ways, emergency medicine as a specialty exists as a shield between patients and their sleeping (or otherwise engaged) physicians.  But I fear we’re all wearing a little thin.  Because the emergency room has become ...

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She died thirsty! Ice chips matter when it comes to patient satisfaction. “My wife died uncomfortable and alone. She died thirsty!” The man who spoke those words came in to the emergency room recently where I was working a shift. He was accompanied by his wife, a 70-year-old with high sugar, weakness, and nausea. The team worked to get her seen under the presumption that her diabetes needed control. Once she was brought back to ...

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Top stories in health and medicine, December 15, 2014From MedPage Today:

  1. ED Throughput: A Fixable Problem. As I travel the freeways of the various cities I visit, I often come across billboards announcing waiting times at the local ED, or billboards promising no wait at all. Sometimes they just advertise "faster" care, whatever that means.
  2. Mumps Checks NHL Players. It ...

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It started with a mild case of nausea and got progressively worse. I became dizzy and shaky, but tried to ignore it. There was work to be done that afternoon. We were moving boxes into storage at my in-laws’ house in Michigan, and I needed to be strong. I carried boxes on unsteady feet, catching myself before bumping into walls. By early evening my legs were wobbly, and I felt ...

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Married to a physician: Holiday blessings in disguise Each year as the holidays approach, countless medical families prepare for the dreaded release of the holiday schedule. Will the physician spouse be home this year? Will the non-physician spouse be packing up three kids under the age of five and traveling across the country alone to visit family they may only see once a year? It can be stressful. It ...

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Holidays in the ER: What youll see is a lot of humanityPeople ran to the church for refuge in Medieval times. It was considered a place of safety, a sanctuary from civil punishment. In the church, one could claim a right to justice, food, water and shelter. That role was recognized by church and government authorities alike; doubtless sometimes grudgingly as the wanted escaped harsh punishments. These days, America's emergency rooms have filled ...

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The time I almost got fired for saving a young woman’s life I was a fourth-year surgery resident, on the transplant team. It was a difficult rotation, because the doctor who ran it was sexist and got along better with you if you flirted with him. He made innumerable sexual wisecracks in the OR while we were working, and preferred to round with his arm around me as he made further innuendoes. I wasn’t ...

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They didnt do anything! The inverted homeopathy of the ER. How often do we have this interaction: "My wife was here yesterday for belly pain.  That doctor didn’t do nothing! Told me she just needed to get over it. I am not happy and something needs to be done about this!" (Frequently spoken by spouse.) Records are reviewed.  Treatment:  Included numerous doses of morphine and phenergan, as well as fluids and Zofran.  Frequent warm blankets were ...

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Everyone cries when they bury their dead When I was in college and decided I wanted to go to medical school, I kept a picture of a medical transport helicopter on my desk. It represented the excitement I wanted to experience one day. When I was in medical school, I loved nothing better than watching in the chaos of the trauma bay, helping as the blood spurted to ...

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Even if no life was saved, an ER physician makes a difference I walk out of the patient room.  My eyes stare at the computer screen.  I’m behind, way behind.  I roll my head on my neck.  My neck feels tense, and I have a headache.  It’s been a long week.  I need a vacation.  Hurry up, click-click-click this computer, I think to myself.  Dammit, is this EMR really freezing up again? I look ...

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