Last year, hospitals and health systems underwent 98 consolidations, a 51 percent increase from 2010.  Many of these mergers and acquisitions arose in response to declining government reimbursement and the Affordable Care Act.  Smaller hospitals are having increasing difficulties maintaining a margin and many face high debt burdens, bankruptcy or even closure. But is consolidation the clear-cut answer? Here are 4 reasons bigger actually may not be better for all hospitals: 1. Disparate ...

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There’s been a lot of talk recently about low morale and disgruntlement among doctors. A recent article on focused on a list of reasons when doctors know it’s time to quit. I found the article a bit sad and unfortunate, but I’m sure the feelings behind it were sincere. Another excellent article in the Wall Street Journal last week extensively discussed the factors behind poor job satisfaction within our profession. The ...

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Why hospitals have to dramatically change their missions I think I will become a neurosurgeon. Tomorrow. It shouldn’t be too hard, right? I’m a breast cancer surgeon, and that is kind of like being a neurosurgeon, isn’t it? I wear scrubs and know how to tie knots really well. OK, maybe I don’t know much about the brain, and the last time I was on a neurosurgical team was during ...

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No one wants a hospital-acquired infection -- a wound infection, a central line infection, or any other kind.  But today, the level of concern in American hospitals about infection rates has reached a new peak -- better termed paranoia than legitimate concern. The fear of infection is leading to the arbitrary institution of brand new rules. These aren’t based on scientific research involving controlled studies.  As far as I can tell, ...

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Medical errors: We cant trust doctors to get it right "If doctors do no other good, they at least prepare their patients early for death, undermining little by little and cutting off their enjoyment of life." These words from Montaigne are 350 years old, but, sadly, too often they describe the results of modern medicine, particularly when it is mindlessly applied in a needlessly heroic way to the end of life. I spend ...

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Health cares future: An interview with a hospital CEO Not long ago I interviewed Dr. Todd Sorensen, the CEO of Regional West Medical Center, a 184-bed facility serving a large swath of rural western Nebraska. I've known Dr. Sorensen since junior high school, and we've kept in touch over the years to discuss the health care system from his perspective as a physician and administrator and mine as a health ...

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There are certain universal laws that appear to govern the broader workings of the world around us. For those of you unfamiliar with Pareto’s principle, it’s a concept that was first applied in economics and then found to be a governing rule in a whole host of different arenas. It’s no understatement to say that understanding and acting upon this concept can be transformative, not just in your work but ...

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The safety concerns that keep clinicians awake at night often aren't issues that you could fit onto a safety and quality dashboard. They aren't the kinds of things that feed metrics on the CMS Hospital Compare website or any of the other sources of publicly reported quality measures. They are intensely local, and no less important for being so. This reminder came to me recently during a quarterly meeting of Comprehensive Unit-based ...

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Two weeks ago, I went on an awesome vacation to Las Vegas. It was my first paid vacation of my medical career and by all accounts it went very well. I won $50 on the penny slots and got to see my old friend, the Hoover Dam. Many “Vegas vacation” lines were uttered as we walked across the dam bridge and asked all the dam questions we could think of. ...

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Why doctors should round with nurses Whenever possible I make a point of rounding on patients with their nurses present. I rely on nurses to be my eyes and ears when I’m not at the bedside. I need their input to confirm patient self-reports of everything from bowel and bladder habits to pain control, not to mention catching early warning signs of infection, mental status changes, or ...

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