Please choose one: The three words blink in front of me on the computer screen. Please choose one: Patient is-Male     Female  I click FEMALE. I watch as the auto-template feature fills in the paragraph for me based on my choices. Patient #879302045 Patient is: 38-year-old female status post motor vehicle accident. Please acknowledge you have reviewed her allergies, medications, and past medical history. I click YES. Have you counseled her about smoking cessation? I click NO. A little, animated icon of a doctor pops up on the screen. His mouth begins ...

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I am sorry that you are in the hospital. You are feeling ill. The noises are loud, people are walking in and out of rooms, and you aren’t sure of what to expect.  You are probably nervous.  This whole situation is a disturbance to your life. You would rather be at home -- I can understand that. Few people want to be in the hospital. I don’t know what brought ...

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Just because it’s simple doesn’t make it easy. Take a look at habits. Do you floss? We all know the advantages, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do it. Yet only 28 percent of people say they floss regularly. How about covering your mouth when you cough? Again, it’s not difficult, but we all know people who fail to grasp the concept. Unfortunately, the same is true for hand-washing. ...

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Hospital leaders who are successful managers today are successful because they manage change. The great hospitals leaders by now have become masters at it. But there’s a difference between change you can see coming (bundled payments, EHR implementations, declining reimbursements) and change that shows up unannounced on the front door. That’s often what it feels like when a huge, publicly traded company acquires a smaller physicians group. It can feel like ...

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Despite the well-known rollout problems for hospitals and clinics across the nation, there are many palpable and welcome advantages to using electronic health records. Chief among these are the ability to access the chart from anywhere, rapidly search for information needed, and reducing the centuries-old problem of illegible doctors’ handwriting.  But with the good comes the bad, and in these still relatively early stages of health care information technology adoption -- ...

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I sometimes think doctors forget what it’s like to be patients. But I’ve been there, and I know how frustrating and scary it can be. I remember one night, I was lying in a hospital bed, resting peacefully. I heard a noise and opened my eyes to a room full of chaos. Nurses everywhere. A crash cart. Someone holding paddles. I tried to speak, but couldn’t. And then I got it out: “Please don’t.” Here’s my story: Before ...

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Help, I need somebody! Help, not just anybody! Help, you know I need someone, help! - The Beatles We are all here on earth to help each other; what on earth the others are here for I don’t know.  - W. H. Auden “Help the doctor!” I’m sure most surgeons have heard this exasperated statement at some point in the operating room. It is said with that special mix of frustration, irritation, and sarcasm, usually when things aren’t going ...

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Physician burnout has been previously described as heartbreaking, and this may be an understatement.  The growing complexities of health care delivery, intricacies of documentation practices as required by Meaningful Use, and difficulties inherent to billing and reimbursement are only a few of the issues faced by residents and attending clinicians these days. Unfortunately, these topics are still not formally taught in American medical schools. As students, we really do not know ...

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Once the 2008 economic spiral began and, unemployment escalated with wallets and purses zipped closed, causes were not initially recognized. Since then, the causal details of this downturn were ferreted out pinpointing emanation from Wall Street banks. Public discontent demanding change has been ignored allowing potential for recurrence. Why? Business has influenced legislators swaying their vote as they filled campaign coffers. In the same way, business has taken over health care. For those ...

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The non-medical reader may wonder what I am complaining about.  Of course, many of you have to be credentialed in your fields as well, whether law or accounting, law enforcement or public service, education, nursing or a trade.  But those of you in medicine know how difficult it can be to become credentialed as a physician, either by a state for purposes of a license, or by a hospital in order ...

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