When, aged thirteen, my best friend died of complications from sickle cell disease, her parents could not attend her funeral, or find out where she was buried. My mom explained to me that in the Yoruba culture, because parents are not expected to survive their children, it is considered an abomination for a parent to know where their child is buried. So, the young adults in the extended family attended ...

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“Hey, doc, you’re killing me.” Or, more specifically, us. A recent report from researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine points to medical errors as the third leading cause of death in this country. Despite the many safeguards put in place by the government, hospitals, and doctors, themselves, more than 250,000 people a year in the U.S. die from hospital-acquired infections, wrong-site surgeries, medication mistakes and a host of ...

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I am known by my patients and friends for my calm, imperturbable manner.  Yes, I am equipped with the full range of human emotions, but few folks have ever seen me raise my voice or demonstrate bulging next veins.  I am not suggesting this is a virtue or a character flaw, but is just the way I am wired. Sure, I get irritated and frustrated with the absurdities of life, as ...

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As a locum tenens physician in rehabilitation hospitals, I see patients with some of the most unique injuries. From rare brain infections contracted in exotic lands, to the consequences of ill-advised horseplay with guns or ATVs, I’d begun to wonder if maybe I’d seen it all. And then I met a grandma from New Jersey, who had a life-changing encounter on a nature trail out west. In her dutiful effort to ...

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A new research study recently published in the BMJ claims that medical error is the third leading cause of death in America. It is third only to heart disease and cancer. Most of the major news outlets are sensationalizing this report. A few headlines are even slowly starting to replace the phrase “medical error” with “doctor error.” Some comments I noted on social media include, “Medical errors kill eight ...

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A couple of weeks ago I visited the island of Cyprus with family. Having seen a lot of mainland Europe over the last several years, I was keen for something a bit off the beaten track and away from a major city. We thought about a few possible destinations, but opted in the end for Cyprus (partly because of the desperate need for some warmer weather). Booking the trip quite rapidly, ...

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Many stories have been shared by physicians detailing their experiences during their years as house officers. I trained at an inner city hospital in the early 1970s, and my story was unique. Hospital J was built in the early part of the twentieth century. The structure was nine stories tall, with the ICU, the only air conditioned floor, located at the top. The elevators had not been automated and were still ...

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Healthcare Not Fair imagines a world where attorneys, insurers, CEOs, and politicians run health care.  Spoiler alert: It's not pretty.

Sometimes when I’m working at the hospital overnight, I go for walks. Every now and then, things calm down in the operating room, and you can get some time to relax. Life moves at such a break-neck pace, especially within the world of hospitals, that taking a moment to reflect, is beneficial. Walking around a hospital at night is very different than during the day. During the day, it feels like ...

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The first time I wore a white coat was during the white coat ceremony in medical school. It was a beautiful day in New York City. Scores of young, bright-eyed medical students and their proud family members were all congregated in a ballroom, which shared its building with a bowling alley, in the heart of Harlem. It was particularly warm inside the building, and we were being served hot coffee while ...

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