"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Chances are that many of you have duked this out with your college roommates back in the day, but how about this one? “If a doctor and a patient make an advance care plan, but when an emergency happens, nobody can find a copy of it, the proxy doesn't know what's ...

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William was doing great.  His C. Diff  was finally gone after a month taper of vancomycin.  He was stronger.  The nursing home staff reveled in how much progress was being made over such little time.  It seemed every one was ecstatic, except for, of course his family.  Every step this octogenarian took forward was accompanied by a litany of concerns and complaints from his daughter. If he was not gaining weight, ...

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The old adage “time is money” holds true, especially in health care. Apparently the medicine time crunch spans two midnights. In October 2013, Medicare enacted a provision that changed coverage for hospitalized patients. The “two-midnight rule” states that a patient will not be covered as an inpatient unless their hospital stay is expected to cross two midnights. The end result is that many seniors are placed under observation, even if they stay ...

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We all want the advantage.  We put our kids in special preschools so they have the advantage.  We work 100 hours a week so our kids can do 8 activities and get the advantage. Tall people have an advantage, we’re told.  Poor people are “disadvantaged.” Well folks, there are a whole bunch of senior citizens in Massachusetts who are about to get disadvantaged starting September 1. UnitedHealthcare (UHC) will be
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There are plenty of examples of direct-to-consumer advertising that the pharmaceutical industry use to lure new customers. These ads almost universally make emotional appeals to the consumer, as well as focusing on the benefits rather than presenting any real discussion of risks. What if someone used a similar concept, but instead of trying to get people to take a drug, they try to convince patients to stop one. That’s just what ...

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It was just a regular hot and humid Saturday morning in Miami, and I was on my way out of a local Walmart after buying a few items. As I walked to my car at the end of the parking lot, I heard a voice asking me “Son, any change?” In a neighborhood that is known to have a disproportionately large amount of vagrants, I did what I usually do ...

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Mr. Katz sat on the edge of his chair in my clinic room, teetering as if he might fall at any moment. He was 86-years-old, and his thin body had become weak and tired. But his angry eyes, like a petulant child, stared at me. “Doc, you should have just let me die,” he said to break the ice. I had just discharged Mr. Katz earlier in the week from the hospital. ...

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A few months ago, the father of a primary care physician came into the emergency department with syncope.   He was 102 years old.  His age was more than double his heart rate.  That may or may not be bad but it certainly is often a reason for more testing.  The senior resident seeing the patient ordered an EKG, a battery of labs, a head scan,  and anticipated admitting the patient ...

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This quarter of medical school has by far been my favorite, because almost everything we do has an explicit clinical correlation. Each week we work in small groups of 10 or so students to go over patient cases, practice respiratory and cardiovascular (our two organ blocks this quarter) physical exam skills, and interface with real patients in the hospital. These experiences have been both exciting and humbling, and two in ...

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Her wary eyes, magnified from her thick-lensed spectacles, watched my every move as I pulled room 21's curtain to the side and entered her room. In her early eighties, it was apparent to me that my entrance into her life was more important than the abdominal pain that brought her to our emergency department. In the corner sat a slight man with wispy gray hair poking out from the border ...

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