It’s Friday afternoon at 4 p.m., and Mr. Anderson walks into my endoscopy suite as the last patient of the day. He’s a 65-year-old publicly-insured male who presents for a screening colonoscopy. He’s 20 minutes late, because he went to registration in the surgery department. He is convinced “looking for cancer” requires surgery. In triage, the nurses learn that he has held his Coumadin for five days as personally instructed by ...

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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 ...

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I have been a rehabilitation specialist and case manager working with patients who have neurological and neuropsychiatric impairments for thirty years. About three years ago, my life took an unanticipated detour when I was perforated during a baseline colonoscopy. All of my experience as a case manger and patient advocate could not prevent this error or the others that followed. Although my health, body, and life were forever altered by the ...

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Dear Dad, I often think about the night you passed away.  I was caring for you while you were dying from metastatic colon cancer.  Every hour I woke up to give you Dilaudid so you wouldn't feel pain and Ativan so you wouldn't be scared.  You had only just been diagnosed eight months before.  Despite aggressive chemo, radiation, abdominal surgeries, and all the hope and prayer in the world, the cancer ...

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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 ...

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“I need help with my colitis.” “Really? I thought we had things pretty well controlled.” I hadn’t seen her in the better part of a year. I remembered how hard it had been to get her ulcerative colitis into remission. How sick she had been, how miserable her life was. There was a bit of trial and error in the office, followed by a hospitalization for intravenous steroids, then a tapering dose ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 68-year-old woman undergoes upper endoscopy for evaluation of dyspepsia. She has a history of pernicious anemia. She has no other medical problems and her only medication is oral vitamin B12. On physical examination, vital signs are normal, as is the remainder of the physical examination. Upper endoscopy discloses a 6-mm polyp in the ...

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A good friend of mine recently found herself between jobs, with a gap in her health insurance and a recurrence of her kidney stones. What she needed were fluids and pain relief, fast. I'm a gastroenterologist, and hoping to minimize the financial impact, I went with her to our local ER and had a conversation with the attending physician. Maybe we could pass on the CT scan and extraneous lab ...

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Did you know that married men have a lower colorectal cancer mortality when compared to unmarried men? What about the fact that married men have higher rates of colorectal cancer screening? Interesting, right? In fact, studies showing the association between marriage and favorable behavior regarding colon cancer screening have been published as early as 2010. More recently, a study published in the journal Preventive Medicine found that married men are ...

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I recognized a glitch in my electronic medical record's decision support software when it prompted me to consider prostate and colorectal cancer screening in a 93-year-old man, who, though remarkably vigorous for his age, was unlikely to live for the additional 10 years needed to benefit from either test. Although deciding not to screen this patient was easy, determining when to stop cancer screening in older patients is often more ...

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