A guest column by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, exclusive to KevinMD.com. "The tragedy of man is what dies inside himself while he still lives." - Albert Schweitzer Statistically speaking When is the last day you truly remember feeling peace, happiness and a deep sense of well being? If you cannot answer this question, you are not alone among ...

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In his brilliant 1993 satire “Et Tu, Babe,” Mark Leyner proposed a new concept in body art, which is the specialty of “visceral tattoos.”   The narrator travels to Mexico where his chest is opened and the insignia of a “guy surfing a wave of lava, wearing polka-dotted trunks,” is tattooed directly on his heart.  The dye used shows up on CT scans and apparently women, especially x-ray technicians, love it. ...

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The Greek hero of the Trojan war, Achilles, had only one vulnerable area on his body, his heel. Similarly, modern humans also have a vulnerable part of the our anatomy, the upper airway, which simultaneously accommodates for breathing, swallowing, and speaking. The ability to talk, however, came at a price. Evolutionary biologists have stated that speech and language development was detrimental to our health. Overdevelopment of our speech structures compromised our ...

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I was trained at a time when medical care was not a commodity.  It was part art, part science, and not delivered in bits in pieces but imparted with an eye to the whole patient. And I was trained by a master of the art and the science and the whole patient.  Dr. Robert Ruben has spent his life studying the effects of communication disorders on the lives of children who ...

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There are times when it is necessary to step up to the plate and go the extra mile on behalf of your patients.  There is no job description for doing this and there is no manual that gives you instructions on what action you need to take on behalf of your patients.  However, when you have the opportunity to do the right thing, at the right time and for the ...

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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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