Tom Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in his recent blog post, "Are Children Overmedicated?" seems to suggest that perhaps more medication is in order. Comparing mental illness in children to food allergies, he dismisses the "usual" explanations given for the increase prescribing of medication.  In his view these explanations are; blaming psychiatrists who are too busy to provide therapy, parents who are too busy ...

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From the moment some patients arrive in your office, nothing seems to suit them:

  • Your parking lot charges too much.
  • Your front desk staff has too many forms for them to complete.
  • Your waiting room magazines are too old.
  • The temperature in your exam room is too cold.
So why are some patients so grumpy? I believe many patients come to us with a wall of fear around themselves. They are worried about the outcome of their ...

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It's one thing to ask a doctor to stay current on his knowledge, it's quite another to insist he survey his patients for a private enterprise, especially if that survey represents unvetted independent research. Recently, a colleague of mine was attempting to maintain his board certification credential with the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and signed up for the ABIM's requirement for a practice improvement module worth a required 20 ...

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In the forty years since I started medical school, I have worked in socialized medicine, student health, a cash-only practice and a traditional fee for service small group practice. The bulk of my experience has been in a government-sponsored rural health clinic, working for an underserved, underinsured rural population. Today, I will make a couple of concrete suggestions, borrowing from all the places I have worked and from the latest trends ...

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There's no arguing the fact that evidence-based medicine (EBM) is moving us in the right direction as far as treating and preventing illness in medicine as a whole, but what does EBM, in its current interpretation, mean for medicine as an individualized art? Everything new or controversial in medicine seems to have a swinging pendulum. From vaccines to hormonal treatment to alternative therapies, the pendulums of medicine seem to be in ...

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Nearly all physicians are now subject to patient satisfaction ratings. In my case, and many thousands of my colleagues across the country, it is via the survey tool sold to health care facilities by the Press Ganey Company. There are also many, many online sources that rate physicians. The idea is a good one: Physicians should be subject to feedback from patients about patient perceptions of how good a job the doctors ...

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I know the ropes at the VA ... I'll pick up the phone in a heartbeat and call my senator and get what I need right away. A lot of guys aren't like that. –Max Gruzen, PTSD patient, Vietnam veteran from the New York Times So this is what it means to be an "engaged" patient in the VA system today. You have to know a senator who will intervene on your ...

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The one question you must ask your doctor Your doctor has more control over your life than anyone -- other than you. Your doctor may be the first face you see as you’re born and the last one you see as you die. Doctors look deep inside you, in places nobody has been before. Doctors prescribe drugs that can kill you or save your life. But how do you know if ...

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I’ve listened over the years to well-meaning people say that the general public doesn’t care about physician payments, because they think all doctors are rich and any physician who complains is just whining. This is a huge mistake on the part of people who want to have a long-term relationship with comprehensive family physicians as their primary care givers, and those who want better health care at a lower cost. Let’s ...

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Next in a series. What are some of the characteristics of healers? They listen and do so nonjudgmentally. They respond on the patient’s terms. They are humble. They are truthful. The healer communicates on the patient’s (and family’s) own terms. The healer always explains his or her reasoning. The healer tries to diminish the information gap. Despite all of medicine’s sophisticated technology and providers’ skills, the patient still needs the doctor ...

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