Consider the messages that tattoos are sending Ink is everywhere these days, and I don’t mean on newspapers or in magazines. Tattoos are far more pervasive than I can ever recall in my fifty years. There was a time, when I was young, that boys were awestruck by the old Navy veterans, whose arms bore anchors, and the Marines with Semper Fi across their battle scarred chests. Occasionally, ...

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I wish I had a dollar every time someone gets misty-eyed about the physician-patient relationship -- and two dollars every time they say protecting it is the key to health care. That might be true, if you thought health care was awesome circa 1960. Hereʼs what the physician-patient relationship meant back then: Physicians say, patients pay. We have seen little progress since then. The claim that the relationship is now symmetrical ...

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An interview with Jessie Gruman Jessie Gruman, who sadly died July 14, 2014, was someone I greatly admired as a person and as a patient activist. I interviewed her in late April for research I was conducting on patient activism, and she graciously allowed me to publish the interview, wanting, not surprisingly for those who knew her, to do everything she could to use ...

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In medicine, the patient is not always right Beginning with the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) landmark Quality Chasm report in the late 1990s, the health policy establishment, the medical profession and the American public began to hear a new and disconcerting message: American health care was not patient-centered. The IOM prescribed a number of recommendations to redesign health care delivery, one calling for patients as the source of control over their care. "Patients should ...

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A popular television commercial shows a group of older women playing cards. One woman talks about her friend who is struggling financially since her husband died (the husband only had a small life insurance policy). Another lady said that she doesn’t have to worry about that happening since her husband has an XYZ insurance policy. The other ladies immediately ask about the policy. Then a TV pitchman describes the policy ...

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Before losing my health insurance in 2009, it never occurred to me to be concerned about a little thing like a blood test.  Since 1986 I’d been having three vials of blood drawn each year during my physical.  My doctor would authorize it, the nurse would draw the blood in the office and send it to the lab for processing. A few days later she would call me with the results ...

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I'm impressed by how much we struggle with seemingly simple health decisions when faced with sorting through too much information. Buying sunscreen: It's a simple task, right? Most of us do it every year about this time. And among actions we can take to reduce our risk of cancer in general and skin cancer specifically, this choice is fairly important. So my colleague was surprised to hear this snippet of conversation as she contemplated ...

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Heard these?

Media-fueled flip-flops and research breakthroughs on lifestyle and health behaviors are wearing down my usual patience with the provisional nature of science. Even simple dietary recommendations like ...

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According to the recent Wall Street Journal article patients are encouraged to engage in care, keep track of their medical data, seek preventive care, and to manage their conditions. Studies show that if patients are actively involved in care and partner with providers, that they experience better health outcomes and lower costs. But for patients to be active participants in care they must acquire knowledge about their diagnoses and treatment plans, ...

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If only our lives were more predictable and certain, we’d feel a greater sense of security and safety. Yet, much of what happens to us is beyond our ability to control. This is true whether we live in a third-world country or in the most advanced scientific and technological environment. It’s also true whether we’re struggling to make ends meet or living in the lap of luxury. No one is immune ...

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