“I was surprised when the emergency doctor at Cityside Hospital said he was going to call you to discuss my case," Farmer Carr said when I saw him today. “I figured you’d be asleep at that hour.” I smiled as I recalled the cell phone call that had come in at 9:30 the night I had sent him back to the hospital for a reassessment. “No, I was sitting in my camping ...

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The moment that an accreditation team shows up unannounced can spike the pulse of even the most seasoned hospital executive. The next several days will amount to one big exam for the safety and quality of care, as surveyors meet with executives, managers and care teams, and watch first-hand as care is delivered. Make the wrong move or give a wrong answer, have them see rust on a ceiling sprinkler, ...

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Dear pharmacist, You just paged me and, I must admit, I’m not feeling excited to call back. I estimate that I probably get paged, called, texted or stopped in person by you exactly X·102 per day, where “X” is the number of days I’ve been on service. Despite all of the interactions over the years, I have never stopped to really consider our relationship. Here are a few of our most ...

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I am working hospitalist right now. On Friday, a man in his 80s was admitted with difficulty breathing. He had a complicated history, including a heart attack at age 35 with all the subsequent sequela of heart disease. He had an abnormal heart rhythm and was taking a blood thinner for stroke prevention. In addition, he had scarring of his lungs (cause unknown). He was transferred to us from another hospital. ...

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Being in a hospital is a scary and frightening time, and it’s easy for those of us at the frontlines — doctors and nurses — to forget that as we go about our busy work days. Patients are at a very low point in their lives and will remember everything about their hospital stay, including all their interactions, for a very long time. As someone with a keen interest in improving ...

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When Barbara (name changed) recently underwent her fourth Cesarean section, she was appalled by the care she received during her recovery.  Her catheter overflowed, and a CNA asked her to check her own incision.  When the CNA asked if she was breastfeeding her baby, Barbara replied tearfully that she couldn’t lift her out the bassinette.  Rooming-in is a great idea. Unless you’ve had a 36-hour labor or major abdominal surgery. Pregnant ...

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Telemedicine is often in the news and until recently I had only casually glossed over the latest articles. The details I paid little attention to, but the headlines I would remember. “Great for rural areas” I would read! “Extend physician reach!” “Get specialists to greater numbers of patients with unique conditions!” As a nearly graduated anesthesia resident in a large city with an abundance of doctors, I didn't think telemedicine would have ...

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Recently, I wrote a letter to hospital executives, urging them to deliberately invest their own personal time and effort in fostering hospitalist well-being. I suggested several actions that leaders can take to enhance hospitalist job satisfaction and reduce the risk of burnout and turnover. Following the publication of that post, I heard from several hospital executives and was pleasantly surprised that they all responded positively to my ...

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Recently, one of the biggest mistakes ever observed on live television occurred when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, presenters of the award, announced the wrong film as winner of the Academy Award for best picture.  Not since Janet Jackson's costume malfunction has, live television caused such uproar. How could this have happened?  How could it have been prevented?  Moreover, what can this error teach us about how we care for patients? A ...

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Sometimes it feels like the great unspoken secret between doctors and nurses. The words that we dare not utter to patients and families. Perhaps it is our hope that we're wrong. Perhaps, we dread providing unwanted news. Perhaps, we don't want to face reality or extinguish our patients' hope. As a daughter, I felt that sense of sadness and dread, waiting to hear the news that would not be told. It was September ...

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