You will probably never meet me in person. Your name will be on the bill my insurance receives from the hospital. Your signature will be on the line after the end of the report as you mumble report after report into the system. You will never know my story. I am my organs to you; organs will anomalies that you have to squint and sometimes lean back to look for.  You ...

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A popular meme is that the U.S. spends more on health care than other developed nations but has nothing to show for that spending. This is different from saying that the U.S. spends more, but achieves something, but the something it achieves is so little that it isn’t worth the public purse. The latter is difficult to assert because the asserter must then say how little is too little in ...

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After five years of doing bedside ultrasound, I'm still excited about it. Bedside, or point-of-care ultrasound is using an ultrasound machine during the physical examination of a patient in order to make a diagnosis. I use a pretty tiny machine that fits in my pocket. As an internist who works in the hospital and in rural clinic outpatient settings, I get to use my ultrasound all the time, and it's ...

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To paraphrase Tolstoy, all competence is alike, but every incompetence is incompetence in its own way. Every time I think I’ve seen the horizon of incompetence, I’m dealt a surprise. The sun never sets on incompetence. In health care, incompetence can be found in odd places, such as three recent examples I encountered with third-party payers. Case 1: Downgrading caviar to boiled salmon A patient was referred for a CT angiogram run ...

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A 52-year-old man is evaluated for low back pain of 3 months' duration that is nonradiating, progressive, and worse with ambulation. He reports no preceding injury. Medical history is notable for smoldering multiple myeloma diagnosed 1 year ago; he has been stable since that time. His only medication is as-needed acetaminophen. On physical examination, temperature is 36.8 °C (98.2 °F), blood pressure is 132/82 mm Hg, pulse rate is 70/min, and ...

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Diagnostic tests such as CT scans are not perfect. A test can make two errors. It can call a diseased person healthy: a false negative. This is like acquitting a person guilty of a crime. Or a test can falsely call a healthy person diseased: a false positive. This is like convicting an innocent person of a crime that she did not commit. There is a trade-off between false negatives and false positives. To ...

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Ran into a radiology colleague today.  He will retire soon, and was happy to discuss the stress on radiology.  I have observed more interpretation errors (or at least I think I have) over the past five years.  We now strongly stress that the learners review all films and question radiology reads. My friend opined that volume expectations have become unsustainable.  We order too many imaging studies.  When you ask physicians to ramp ...

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(Because sometimes my brain processes information in the form of a radiology report.) EXAMINATION: Analysis of physician burnout CLINICAL INDICATION: Increasing use of term physician burnout, particularly via social media, and need to address associated connotations/perceptions TECHNIQUE: Non-scientific retrospective review of popular published pieces on the topic and comments platforms on these articles COMPARISON: Innumerable articles on the topic and experiences of professional and personal contacts FINDINGS: The number of articles about physician burnout have ...

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The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) was created by the federal government in 1984 to provide recommendations to primary care practitioners on the scientific efficacy of screening. In 2010, the federal government linked USPSTF recommendations with national healthcare policy when the Affordable Care Act mandated free coverage by Medicare and private insurance for all screening exams that receive a USPSTF recommendation of A or B.  The ...

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I grew up in a house of spirituality, homeopathy, palmistry, astrology, art, and science alike. My father, with a masters degree in statistics, is a computer systems architect. He also fancies himself an amateur palm reader. The irritation with which I reluctantly used to give my hands over to my father, before the SATs, college decisions, medical school admissions, and my residency match results was real, but I was always ...

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