When I clicked on the “View Your Exam Results” link on the American Board of Anesthesiology website, I thought something rashly exuberant would engulf me. I thought that everyone in the lunch room would turn suddenly, throw their reheated pasta and cafeteria sandwiches high aloft with glee and balloons would gush from the cracks between the fluorescent lights on the ceiling as the whole world burst into song. But instead, there ...

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Doctors don't like to go to doctors. I suppose we might see it as a failure or more likely it is pure intellectual arrogance. Whatever the reason, there can be no excuses when you need to get an insurance examination form filled out. One way of taking the edge off it is possibly to try to use your conversational skills to awe the poor general practitioner forced to see a ...

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Atul Gawande, MD is a brilliant writer, no-doubt an excellent surgeon, and many would say a physician-visionary for all that ails America’s health care system.  He speaks first-hand of the changes that have occurred in American health care and recently offered his perspective for fixing our health care system to the fertile minds of Harvard’s recent graduating class of 2011. In his graduation speech, published front and center (yet again) ...

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I never gave my hands much thought until a few years ago. They were never pretty, but they were functional serviceable hands that did what they were asked—I could examine a patient, type fast and accurately enough, and everyone always told me that my handwriting was outstanding. That has always been a point of pride for I knew that I was never going to kill a patient because a pharmacist ...

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It was a cold winter day in 2009 when my life changed forever, however, it would be months before I figured that out.  On that fateful day, a drug-addicted surgical scrub tech assigned to my operating room stole syringes of fentanyl, a potent intravenous narcotic, from my anesthesia cart.  According to news reports, investigative summaries, and the scrub tech’s confession, once she took the syringes, she used them on herself. It’s ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 40-year-old woman is evaluated for a 4-month history of symmetrically distributed, severely pruritic, grouped erosions on her elbows, knees, back, and buttocks. The skin lesions began as red spots that developed into papules and then vesicles, which broke down as she scratched them. She reports normal bowel habits. She has no other medical ...

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The popularity of plastic surgery today is no secret; 13.8 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2011 alone. Unfortunately, however, an increasing (and unsettling) number of people in the United States are undergoing procedures conducted by unlicensed, so-called “underground,” individuals these days—individuals who have no business billing themselves as plastic surgeons. The primary factor leading people to the doors of these backdoor doctors is, of course, cost. There’s no way around ...

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As a longtime consumer reporter, I’ve always thought the best way to see how the marketplace works is to put yourself in the shoes of someone buying the product or service you’re investigating.   After learning recently that I may need cataract surgery, it was time for me to check out the hospitals where that procedure might take place. To begin my quest for the best, I searched for ratings for four ...

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Recently I was asked to serve as a consultant on a medical matter.  Interestingly, they requested my hourly price for my services.  I thought about this and wondered, "What am I worth per hour in the open market?" It is an interesting question to ponder. I have decided to ask the blog-o-sphere.  Call it a bit of "free market economics."  For the record, 100% of my hourly wage for my services will ...

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Questions such as this from proactive, increasingly knowledgeable patients place a physician on the horns of an ethical dilemma.  Although fellows are closely supervised and trained under a gradually increasing responsibility principle (based upon subjective evaluation), a time will come when there is no one available to back you up in the catheterization lab. Fact: Someone has to be a physician’s first case of any given type. However, no one really ...

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