Last year the New York Times reported that the aviation industry had become so safe that one could fly every day for 123,000 years before dying in an aviation crash. I wish we could say the same for the U.S. health care system. Nationally, problems with health care quality (doing too much, doing the wrong things, and doing too little when indicated) are pretty clear. The bigger problem is that the progress has ...

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In my administrative role, I have the great pleasure of signing thank you letters to patients and family members who have acknowledged the great care they have received by one of our physicians or other caregivers. It is a nice way to tell the patient “we got your note” and to simultaneously recognize the provider by copying her or him. The best part is that I get to read the ...

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shutterstock_137204036 Medicine is not about money, except when it is. When I was in my residency training, pharmaceutical reps still roamed the land. Vast herds of gorgeous young women in tight skirts and stilettos traveled through doctor's offices, clinics, hospitals and residencies all over creation. Their appearance was always a thing of joy, especially for sleepy, hungry physicians-in-training. Someone would run to the ...

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Another day, another pacemaker, at least so it seemed at first. The usual greeting the patient, answering the last questions, consent signing, placement of the IV, EKG leads, prepping of the surgical site and initiation of the preoperative antibiotics were all recent memories.  He laid there, smiling, knowing he'd made the right decision after years of struggling with his arrhythmia in other ways.  His heart was showing signs of slight weakening and ...

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shutterstock_99818753 The practice of medicine is changing faster than anyone can keep pace with. As a hospital physician at a relatively early stage of my career, I’d say that a sizeable number of physicians that I work with are towards the latter end of the spectrum. I find that these doctors, typically over the age of 50, are struggling the most to keep ...

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shutterstock_128357456 Such a no-brainer: If patients who receive care at hospital A are more likely to get readmitted to the hospital 10, 20 or 30 days after discharge than patients in hospital B, then hospital A must be doing something wrong. Perhaps clinicians at that hospital are less adept at diagnosing and managing patients’ problems. Perhaps the follow-up care at hospital A ...

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We’re ready to work on cost savings, just not for patients. There is a tremendous amount of culture change needed to move from fee-for-service to value-based health care.  One of the paradigm shifts is for hospitals to embrace the strategy of cost reduction as opposed to the traditional focus on top-line revenue.  In a system that focuses on value rather than volume, increasing the amount of hospital resources a patient consumes ...

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Dear ACO General Hospital: Thanks for contacting me about my most recent blog post.  I'm sorry to scare your administration about HIPAA information, but I am equally concerned about that and will always do my best to respect the privacy of my patients.  At your request I hid even more of that information. I know it's kind of embarrassing to have that kind of thing made public, and I am overall ...

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The observation status problem has continued to grow both larger and worse. My hospitalist colleagues and I are caring for patients in hospital beds in the exact same way as other patients in the hospital, but we are told that we must give them the designation called observation status.  CMS recognizes observation status as outpatient care, like seeing a patient in a walk-in clinic. We don’t decide to make a patient observation ...

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Among reams of coverage on the Ebola outbreak, Politico just published a characteristic story with the headline, “In the world of Ebola, no room for error.” The only problem is that is as soon as you introduce a human element to any system, there will be error. That’s the reality that health care leaders across the United States are grappling with now in a simultaneous effort both to tighten the health ...

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