shutterstock_157424303 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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shutterstock_119657461 "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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shutterstock_145160653 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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shutterstock_168773126 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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shutterstock_164594111 An article from the JAMA has been gnawing at my consciousness for the last couple of weeks. Dr. Prashant Kaul and colleagues out of the University of North Carolina reviewed records from hospitals in the state of California from 2008 through 2011, looking for patients who had been hospitalized with heart attacks. Specifically, they were looking for patients with ST elevation ...

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My husband and I both like to run.  I run about 3 miles once or twice a week -- if the weather’s not too bad, and if I don’t have something else going on.  Keith, on the other hand, runs half marathons.  He goes for long runs on the weekend for 3 to 4 hours at a time, and shorter runs during the week.  He runs in the heat, rain ...

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