“Am I a hypochondriac?” It’s a question I hear with quite some regularity, almost never from people who suffer from bona fide anxiety disorders related to their health. No, the fact that all you have is a simple upper respiratory infection -- the common cold -- instead of a potentially lethal strain of H1N1 avian flu does not qualify. Not when your response to my reassurance is relief. That’s completely appropriate, and ...

Read more...

On the face of it, the phone call was relatively innocent.  A family member was confused about the test I scheduled.  Apparently the lab refused to draw the blood.  When I inquired why, I was informed that the patient hadn't been fasting.  I calmly explained to the daughter that fasting was not necessary.  Recent studies had shown little effect on lipid panel results and I was using the glycosylated hemoglobin ...

Read more...

Part of a series. Employers have seen their health care costs rise dramatically over the years. To compensate, they have expected employees to pay an increasing portion of the health care insurance premium, expected employees to pay significant co-pays with each physician visit and have purchased policies that restrict individuals to a narrow network of doctors and hospitals. Largely these have not worked. They have offset some of the expenditures but ...

Read more...

Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 32-year-old man is evaluated for a 3-day history of productive cough, sore throat, coryza, rhinorrhea, nasal congestion, generalized myalgia, and fatigue. His sputum is slightly yellow. His two children (ages 3 years and 1 year) had similar symptoms 1 week ago. He is a nonsmoker and has no history of asthma. On ...

Read more...

One of the most important tricks of the trade that I learned in medical school was what some might have considered a little throwaway bit of advice. During my psychiatry clinical rotation the preceptor advised that, when applying the stethoscope to the patient’s back, one should rest the other hand gently on his or her shoulder. Human touch was important. It would relax the patient and convey subconsciously a sense of ...

Read more...

If a doctor doesn’t do excess testing, he isn’t going to be able to live An excerpt from Doctored: The Disillusionment of an American Physician. After the blowup with Rajiv, I committed myself to changing my standoffish ways. Rajiv had been urging me for some time to meet socially with his physician friends in a relaxed atmosphere away from the hospital, and so there I was a few weeks later at a doctors’ party in Manhasset, a tony ...

Read more...

When you feel yourself sinking deeper into a bad case of physician burnout, finding a way out can feel daunting, if not impossible. But it doesn’t have to. I believe recovering from burnout begins when you start taking small, purposeful steps in a new direction. I recommend you start by getting a handle on your work-life balance. Do you balance the time and energy you spend at work with the time and energy ...

Read more...

The state stopped by to see us the other day. Wow, that sounds ominous. No, really, I mean it felt like the entire Empire State: multiple people from multiple offices of New York state government, department of health, office of compliance this, oversight that, all with a vested interest in how things have been going (i.e., how we have been spending their money) in our patient-centered medical home resident pilot program. A few ...

Read more...

Hard truths: Dispelling 10 health care myths 1. Most physicians are intellectually gifted and therefore rarely make mistakes. Perhaps Hollywood is to blame for this misconception, or maybe we simply find comfort in believing that exceptionally brilliant diagnosticians abound. Either way, I wish it weren’t a myth. But the truth is that the vast majority of physicians are average in virtually every way. Despite all claims to the contrary, ...

Read more...

Between paternalism and servility: A balance physicians must straddle Even today there are patients who leave diagnosis and treatment entirely to their doctors.  They make no effort to inform themselves about their illness or chart their own course; they do whatever their doctors advise.  Once the norm, this passive, willfully naive attitude has withered in the face of a multigenerational attitude shift, coupled with the wealth of medical information at hand today. Direct-to-consumer drug ads on television, online peer support, medical websites ...

Read more...

Most Popular