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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asco-logoI 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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They say medicine is a hard science, based on heavily scrutinized theories and proven postulates.  Medicine is supposedly made up of differentials, diagnostic workups, and medications aimed to alleviate or cure.  Everything is based on evidence, everything. But, today, something happened that hasn’t been researched using IRBs; something intangible that restored my faith in humanity. I was on my way home from a long day of being intensely questioned by residents ...

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Twitter -- its functions, benefits, risks and limitations -- has figured prominently in the heated discussion about Emma and Bill Keller's respective editorials in The Guardian (since deleted, though the archived version is still available) and the New York Times about the Twitter feed of Lisa Bonchek Adams. I have followed Lisa for a long time and greatly admire her thoughtful, highly personal tweets about the ups and downs ...

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Overheard in the gym: "Yeah, but I heard that ____ can be dangerous." "Oh, they wouldn't let us buy it if it was." Lately, the public's faith in the safety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs has been making me uneasy. Advances in drug development mean that many of us truly can live better lives through their wise use. But are we adequately guided and protected by a) regulators, b) our clinicians, c) a ...

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One year ago, my book, When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests, was published. My goal in this last year has been to travel around the country and talk about the book and its message of advocating to improve your health. I planned a 48-city itinerary where I’d crisscross the U.S. from Massachusetts to California and back. I’d speak at bookstores, libraries, nursing homes, universities, and community centers. What ...

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