It was a rather unlikely place to begin my clinical career. Shortly after starting medical school, I signed up to volunteer in the hospice unit of my academic medical center.   The first few visits I relegated myself to fairly banal activities.  I shredded old medical records, or I might do a load of laundry for a family member who had been waiting tentatively by their loved one's side and was ...

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Home health care is in many ways a fantastic service, especially for those Medicare beneficiaries who are essentially homebound due to frailty or illness. But it often feels surprisingly hard to synergize with home health care. The main problem, as I see it, is that home health care agencies have set themselves up to provide only administratively required communication with the ordering doc. (There are rules governing home health care, you know!) Now, ...

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Check. The administrator's voice wavered as I picked up the phone.  He was calling about the nursing home patient that I admitted the day before.  While normally forthright, I could feel the discomfort in his tone as he danced around the issue.  The patient's insurer had called.  Apparently they made an "arrangement" with the mega-ACO owned by the latest consolidation of Goliath health systems.  They wanted my patient transferred to another ...

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Ruth was problematic.  Well into her seventies, her body may have dulled but her tongue was sharper than ever.  And she used it to lash me with complaint after complaint.  If it wasn't her knees, it was her ankles.  If it wasn't her ankles, it was her hips.  I battled the impossible month after month, year after year.  Our interactions left a bitter taste in my mouth.  Nothing makes a ...

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the_good__the_bad_and_the_ugly_by_kwad_rat-d5id914 I had a recent conversation with an old friend about her elderly father that encapsulates a lot of what is both great and terribly wrong with health care in America today. Here are the basic facts: the man is in his mid-80s, retired from teaching school, and is active and vigorous, living in the community; he is cognitively intact. He has a ...

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All health care professionals must be skilled at effectively communicating with patients who have dementia.  Some professionals may erroneously assume that only those employed in long-term care, assisted living facility and other similar places need these skills.  However, patients with dementia visit medical practices, acute care hospitals and other health care centers.  This article will provide a framework to effectively interact with patients who have dementia. Go along to get along This ...

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american society of anesthesiologistsA guest column by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, exclusive to KevinMD.com. More than 75 percent of operations in the U.S. occur in an outpatient setting. Outpatient, or ambulatory care, can take place in a number of different settings, including physician offices, outpatient surgery centers, or hospital or non-hospital-based outpatient clinics. With more and more elderly patients undergoing outpatient ...

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There is much to deplore in our medical system.  Atrocities abound in the dark recesses of hospital wards, the overpacked waiting rooms of outpatient offices, and the algorithmic hum of insurance claim denials.  Yet time and again, the most vile of of insults are hurled at one setting in particular.  I'm talking of the place cursed by emergency room physicians when admitting yet another poor soul with a sacral ulcer, ...

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American health care has become a gigantic game board with players of all sorts strategizing to win. Winning, of course, means getting more money from payers: government or private. It turns out this medical marketplace game is not all that new. It's just become wilier, as I have shared in a couple of posts over the summer. An obituary last week for Dr. Rashi Fein, an influential economist with a progressive stripe ...

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She was sick.  Not sick like a high fever, body aches and a runny nose.  Sick like she had spent the last half a decade in nursing homes as most of her internal organs failed.  There was oxygen, and dialysis, and a colostomy.  She propelled herself vigorously through the crowded halls in the custodial wing of the nursing home, her wheelchair a natural extension of her body thoroughly unhampered by ...

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