There have been recent discussions in the lay media about a growing trend of litigation cases focused not on the “right to live,” but rather on the “right to die.” These cases have involved patients who received aggressive treatment, despite having documentation of their wishes not to receive such aggressive treatment. Although unsettling, it is not surprising that this issue has arisen, given the national conversations about the exorbitant cost ...

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I sometimes joke that hospitalists are the medicine version of the mullet haircut; you know, all business in “the front” (i.e., the patient care area) and all party in “the back” (i.e., the work room). In “the back,” the usual scenario is to complain and moan about our frequent flyers, our drug seekers, our many unsaveable patients, the incredible situations (“He put a nail where?"), with good-natured but somewhat bitter ...

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STAT_LogoA good relationship between a patient and his or her physician is the cornerstone of superb medical care. That relationship is important when you know the doctor well. It may be even more important when you don’t, say when you are in the hospital.

Growing competition for new customers is inspiring American hospitals to focus on providing ...

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Recently, the online version of JAMA published an original investigation entitled "Patient Mortality During Unannounced Accreditation Surveys at US Hospitals." The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effect of heightened vigilance during unannounced accreditation surveys on safety and quality of inpatient care. The authors found that there was a significant reduction in mortality in patients admitted during the week of surveys by The Joint Commission. The change was ...

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I am working hospitalist right now. On Friday, a man in his 80s was admitted with difficulty breathing. He had a complicated history, including a heart attack at age 35 with all the subsequent sequela of heart disease. He had an abnormal heart rhythm and was taking a blood thinner for stroke prevention. In addition, he had scarring of his lungs (cause unknown). He was transferred to us from another hospital. ...

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Recently, I wrote a letter to hospital executives, urging them to deliberately invest their own personal time and effort in fostering hospitalist well-being. I suggested several actions that leaders can take to enhance hospitalist job satisfaction and reduce the risk of burnout and turnover. Following the publication of that post, I heard from several hospital executives and was pleasantly surprised that they all responded positively to my ...

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Sometimes it feels like the great unspoken secret between doctors and nurses. The words that we dare not utter to patients and families. Perhaps it is our hope that we're wrong. Perhaps, we dread providing unwanted news. Perhaps, we don't want to face reality or extinguish our patients' hope. As a daughter, I felt that sense of sadness and dread, waiting to hear the news that would not be told. It was September ...

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Startled out of sleep, I reflexively reach for my beeping pager. For a split second, I lie poised between wakefulness and terror in the pitch-dark resident call room, not sure where I am or what happened. I resolve to sleep with the lights on from now on. I dial the call-back number. "Pod A," a caffeinated voice chirps. It's Candice, one of the nurses. "Hi. Amy here, returning a page," I murmur. "Oh hi, ...

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Dear hospital executive, If you are like many of the hospital leaders with whom I regularly talk, you’re probably concerned that your hospitalist program isn’t delivering the value you need in this metrics-driven and cost-constrained environment. You may see your hospitalists as disengaged free agents who either don’t know or care too little about contributing to the success of your organization beyond seeing the patients on their list. They may repeatedly ...

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About three years ago, our hospital was abuzz about patient satisfaction. Our HCAHPS scores were lower than expected, and there was a push by the administration to improve them. As a hospitalist, I wondered to myself, what could I possibly do to improve them?  I already believed I was doing a very good job communicating effectively with patients. Many years ago, I developed the habit at the end of each encounter ...

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