There he sat, hunched over with rugged, muscular arms stretched across his abdomen, his weary eyes stealing hopeful glances from behind an otherwise steely facade. Mr. J was a 53-year-old Latino agricultural laborer with a history of H. pylori who presented at our student-run free clinic with persistent abdominal pain, unchanged from his multiple previous visits. As I learned more about Mr. J and his story, I realized that treating ...

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I recently treated a patient who was hospitalized with paraplegia. During some routine lab testing I noticed that his liver function tests were elevated, and so I began looking for a cause. I discussed the patient’s drinking habits (he rarely drank alcohol), risks for viral hepatitis (no IV drug use or exposure to those with known hepatitis), and general medical history (nothing relevant to liver disease). I reviewed his current ...

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If you are a physician like me who performs procedures, then rarely you will cause a medical complication. This is a reality of medical life. If perforation of the colon with colonoscopy occurs at a rate of 1 in 1,500, and you do 3,000 colonoscopies each year, then you can do the math. Remember that a complication is a blameless event, in contrast to a negligent act when the physician is ...

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Is your doctor a hammer and you're a nail? Here's some insider advice coaxing patients to be more wary and skeptical of medical advice. Should you trust your doctor? Absolutely. But you need to serve as a spirited advocate for your own health or bring one with you. Ask your physician for the evidence. Sometimes, his medical advice may result more from judgement and experience as there may not be ...

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The nasogastric tube was killing me. It had been in place for twelve hours now, threading its way up my nose and down my throat, past my esophagus, into my stomach. Try as I might, I couldn’t swallow away the nasty lump stuck to the back of my throat. And every time I tried, it hurt. Decades before, as a physician-in-training in upstate New York, I’d put in more nasogastric (NG) ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 42-year-old woman is evaluated for an 8-month history of crampy abdominal pain and three loose bowel movements per day. The pain is relieved by a bowel movement. There are no nocturnal bowel movements, and there is no blood or dark tarry material in the stool. She has not had fever, night ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 55-year-old man is reevaluated during a follow-up examination for a wrist fracture and anemia. The patient is otherwise asymptomatic. He was treated in the emergency department 2 weeks ago after he slipped in his driveway and sustained a right wrist fracture; mild iron deficiency anemia was detected at that time. He ...

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I am a regular reader of patient blogs, and I find myself frequently gasping at the mistreatment they experience at the hands of my peers. I recently had the “pleasure” of being a patient myself, and found that my professional ties did not protect me from outrageously poor bedside manners. I suppose I’m writing this partly to vent, but also to remind health care professionals what not to do ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 25-year-old man is evaluated for a 5-year history of slowly progressive solid-food dysphagia that is accompanied by a sensation of food sticking in his lower retrosternal area. He has compensated by modifying his diet and avoiding fibrous meats. He has not lost weight, and he has not had trouble drinking liquids. ...

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At the critical time when our nation has made meaningful and measurable progress against colorectal cancer incidence, threats to reimbursement for colonoscopy screening for Medicare beneficiaries are looming, which may jeopardize the effectiveness of public health strategies to increase screening and prevention of colorectal cancer in the U.S. New data from the American Cancer Society indicate that colorectal cancer has declined by 30% in just the last decade among those aged 50 ...

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