Medical student Joyce Ho recently wrote an article in which she admitted to discomfort raising the topic of religion with patients.  As a “polarizing” issue that could make the doctor-patient relationship “more unprofessional,” Ms. Ho imagined that patients would fear playing into their doctors’ prejudices, particularly if the doctor were atheist, and that this fear would push some patients away from the inquiring doctor.  Despite her instructor’s recommendation to ask ...

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As physicians, we often write prescriptions for our patients. Where, when, and how patients fill their prescriptions are usually outside of our realm of expertise. But should we be more involved? On occasion, the cost of a medication and possible alternatives will be the subject of my conversation with a patient. I was surprised, however, when one of my patients complained about the price of an antidepressant that I had prescribed. ...

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Look for a doctor who understands healingLook for a doctor who understands healing

An excerpt from In Sickness as in Health: Helping Couples Cope with the Complexities of Illness.

You are not a statistic Ironically, the surgeon who repaired her heart also left her heartbroken. While he and the neurologists may have considered it their obligation to present what they envisioned as ...

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Picture this. You walk into your doctor’s office for an urgent visit for new distressing symptoms.  He (or she) takes your blood pressure, temperature, heart rate.  All within normal limits.  He asks you several questions pertaining to your symptoms, does a thorough exam and perhaps orders a quick in-office lab or two.  You ask him what he thinks is going on. The quandary If it’s a slam dunk diagnosis, the branch point in ...

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I recently spoke to a quality measures development organization and it got me thinking -- what makes a good doctor, and how do we measure it? In thinking about this, I reflected on how far we have come on quality measurement.  A decade or so ago, many physicians didn’t think the quality of their care could be measured and any attempt to do so was “bean counting” folly at best or ...

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Malcolm Gladwell thinks we should tell people whats it's really like to be a doctor.  And by God I have invested the last seven years in doing just that.  I have written countless blogs, given lectures, and traveled to Ireland.  I have coined the term Caring 2.0 to describe the bidirectional flow of empathy.  Patients will tell us what it is like to suffer with disease, and we ...

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I believe that family medicine is the solution to American health care. I believe that family doctors give high quality, cost efficient care. Counties with the right proportion of primary care to specialty care have populations who live longer and health care that costs less. Too many specialists and not enough family physicians leads to unnecessarily expensive care and shorter life expectancy. I believe that family doctors provide something intangible to our ...

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I have a confession. It is a secret I have held for more than 10 years and it is a lesson I have learned from other women. As society continues to debate the terms and conditions required for women to be leaders, what is often missing is the lens of the woman of color. It is time to talk about the socialization of girls, and brown girls in particular, and the guise ...

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Doctors today are often accused of being uncaring: Their eyes are glued to their computer screens and their attention is focused on test results and technology instead of patients. But some doctors care too much: A seasoned cardiologist blogs about letting his emotions lead him astray in keeping an elderly patient on life support too long. Was it his emotional attachment to the charming, elderly woman, or was it professional hubris, ...

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Readers know that I am skeptical over the efficacy of complementary and alternative medicine. This is not merely a demonstration of my inborn skepticism, but doubt based on the fact the so much of their claims are untested, unproven and refuted. I don’t regard the above comment as controversial. It is factual. I’ll let readers decide if it is but another example of the arrogance of conventional physicians who worship on ...

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