I heard this on the radio recently: Mom takes her new baby to the emergency department on a weekend because she thinks her daughter might have a urinary tract infection. She's right, but regulations say the baby has to stay in the hospital for two days to ensure the infection clears. Afterwards, the mom is surprised by and concerned about a $7,000 hospital bill for the baby's care. The reporter says ...

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Hospitals are environments where emotions can run high. These emotions cross all boundaries and can affect physicians, hospital staff, patients and their families. Dealing with an “angry” patient is a common challenge that physicians face. The first step for a physician encountering an angry patient is to remain calm and allow the patient to express his or her concerns. In my experience, “angry” patients can be viewed as falling into several ...

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There's a pesky cognitive bias that creates a honking big barrier to patients and families making the most of the health advice and services available to us. It's the tendency of experts to overestimate the knowledge of others. One consequence of expertise -- or even just easy familiarity with a topic or institution or practice -- is the inability to remember not knowing what you now know. Think back to your ...

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In a study published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, “Quality of life: impact of chronic illness on the partner,” the authors stated: "… the most striking research finding is a tendency for the partner’s quality of life to be worse than that of the patient." The people who are least likely to be surprised by this finding are not just caregivers, but those who are in their ...

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Communication is critical to success in medicine.  Our patients depend on us to help them understand their disease and the risks that it may pose.  In previous blogs I have commented on how vital effective communication can be in determining outcome -- much of my writing has focused on the success associated with outpatient doctor-patient relationships. We now know that when doctors and patients engage, patients become invested in their ...

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It looks like an airport lounge without the rolling suitcases. There are about 20 of us cancer survivor-types fiddling with our phones or reading the newspaper. A few of us are sipping delicious contrast fluid in preparation for a scan, but most of us are waiting to meet with our oncologists for follow-up or monitoring visits. All of us are between the ages of 20 and 70 and all of ...

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Are physicians ready for the e patient movement?I gave a talk recently to a group of my peers about addressing the needs of patients after a diagnosis of cancer, emphasizing points where transitions occur -- from treatment, to end of therapy, surveillance, recurrence, and extending all the way up to the end of life -- and how important it is to consider the entire journey of a person ...

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Do I value the privacy of my health information? What do you mean? That if I email my doctor about an embarrassing symptom, only my doctor will read it? That only my doctor, my nurse and I have access to the information in my electronic medical record, including notes on our confidential conversations, prescriptions and test results? That my local drug store doesn't sell information about me to pharmaceutical companies? That if I ...

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In fall of 1994, I was sixteen years old and sick. I had lost a lot of weight, reduced my diet to BRAT and roast chicken, filled a half-dozen stool samples, even tried a few prescriptions -- and nothing seemed to help. By that point I was seeing a gastroenterologist, Dr. C. After a pointless barium enema and follow-through, Dr. C performed a colonoscopy. From that, he gave me a definitive ...

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I came across a really good post on the Daily Beast written by a pediatrician in New England, griping (appropriately) about parents who were unwilling to trust his judgment about vaccinating their children.

Why have so many patients lost trust in their doctors?

You might challenge the assumption that patients used to trust their doctors more, and that would be a fair question.  I haven’t found any ...

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