There is a 4,300-strong grassroots movement known as “Save Our Hospital” gaining notoriety in Albert Lea, Minnesota. This story is symptomatic of the fact that hospital consolidation has slowly become a national pastime. With declining revenue under the Affordable Care Act, mergers increased by 70 percent, leaving small communities scrambling for health care access. The latest casualty in the “hospital-consolidation-for-sport” trend is Albert Lea, a small ...

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We tend to like threes. Hendriasis, in Greek — one through three, is a figure of speech used for emphasis in which three words are used to express one idea. For example: Veni vidi, vici. Location, location, location. Or one of the anthems of my youth — sex drugs and rock n' roll. Monty Hall had three doors on "Let’s Make a Deal." Even Uncle Junior, the patriarch in the “Sopranos,” ...

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“Someone call for a body bag.” These were words that I didn’t expect to hear on my final day of burn surgery at large metropolitan hospital. We had just planned on a routine burn excision and skin grafting. Our patient, Faith, was a seven-year-old girl with third-degree burns to 85 percent of her body from a house fire. We had been caring for her in the ICU for the past three ...

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That first paycheck as a new attending means so much more than what is direct-deposited into the bank account. The emotions of finishing medical school and training to finally seeing the fruits of your labor positively affect the bank account is something to be proud of. As a medical student (like myself) and resident, it is the light at the end of the tunnel. You’re probably asking yourself, “Why should ...

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I find myself spending close to an hour on the computer each morning at the hospital. I spend this time dutifully looking up vital signs, labs, recent radiology or pathology results as well as many other valuable pieces of information about each of my patients. I watch as my colleagues frantically record values, while making sure to point out important trends and gross abnormalities. When we round, there is always a ...

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"So, I'm getting routine labs on her." Wait, what? Statements like these often make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. One of our residents was seeing a healthy young woman for her "annual physical," seen just a few days after a routine postpartum visit with her OB/GYN after the uneventful birth of her third child two months ago. The resident was coming for his afternoon continuity clinic from an ...

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My intern gazed blankly at her notes from the day. “You OK?” I asked. Her face was quivering with restrained tears as she turned to me, “I don’t think I helped anyone today.” This was not the first time, nor would it be the last time, that I had heard those words from a resident physician. Medical training is no joy ride. How could it be? First, there is the intellectual challenge of ...

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I have a very interesting job: I travel around the country providing neuromonitoring to surgeons in the operating room. I’m also an anesthesiologist assistant, certified and licensed to provide anesthesia. Throughout my ten-year career in the OR, I’ve been the guest of nearly a hundred hospitals in the U.S. and the UK. No two hospitals are the same. My career has allowed me to meet hundreds of incredibly caring doctors, ...

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What should you do if an insurance company denies a test?  Record the name of the denying physician in the chart and take the burden of the denial off of your shoulders and onto the shoulders of a faceless, algorithm-following insurance clinician.

Two months into my pediatric residency, while working on an overnight call, I encountered my first medical mistake. We, fortunately, had had a very good night, and all patients had remained stable. It was an hour before sign-out to the morning team, that I received a page. I quickly held my pager and dialed the 4-digit number, only to find a busy dial tone. I was a little surprised and ...

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