According to Hesiod’s version of an ancient Greek legend, because Pandora has opened a jar stuffed full of evil by the Olympian gods, “countless plagues, wander amongst men … earth is full of evils … Diseases come upon men continually by day and by night, bringing mischief to mortals silently.” Curiously that jar was closed before hope was also allowed to escape. Is the legend an expression of how bleak the ...

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Healthy or not, everybody has his or her share of frustrations in life. The chronically ill don’t have a corner on that market! This piece focuses on frustrations that are unique to those with ongoing health issues. I’ve experienced all of them as a result of being chronically ill with a debilitating illness that settled in after I contracted what appeared to be an acute viral infection in 2001. Here are ...

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My job as a standardized patient (SP) at several different medical schools means that I spend a lot of time being interviewed and examined by students at every stage of their education. Occasionally, the interview is of such a nature that the SPs are told to dress in a certain “costume” because it signifies to the student that there is something about our cultural representation that affects our medical care. ...

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Until genuine rights are extended to all patients, the ongoing health-care-reform saga perpetrated by Congress and executive leadership will continue to fail the American people. Many Americans have suffered and died because of a broken health-care-delivery system. One of us lost a 19-year old son due to lack of certain patient rights – specifically the right to evidence-based medicine and the right to a complete discharge plan from his hospital. ...

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It is not enough to know that a patient’s medical condition warrants an MRI. For most insurance companies, a diagnostic test of this sort requires what is known as a prior-authorization. But, the doctor saying the patient needs this test often fails. The insurance company has a certain guideline the patient must travel first before they will consider the test. For example, a patient with back pain and numbness in one ...

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I love my doctors. I have an undiagnosable autoimmune disease. It's mostly manageable, my lab work is perfect, and I rarely get sick. I get allergy shots and take blood pressure medication. I always have at least low level, mostly familiar, physical symptoms. Occasionally a new one appears. Sometimes it is scary. I could have sued any or all of my doctors over the last decade-plus. I could be "livin' large." They ...

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Since the Department of Transportation (DOT) requires an annual checkup, and getting a yearly physical is generally a smart way to take care of one’s health, it’s a wonder why many truck drivers tend to avoid their yearly exams. Are they tired of the long waits, which may seem like more time spent away from home and family? Do they fear that the stress of their jobs, and perhaps ...

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Lori Wallace sits on a couch with her 11-year-old son and his new pet snake. It burrows under his armpit, as if afraid. Wallace is sure it’s not. “If he was terrified, he would be balled up,” Wallace said. “See, that is why they are called ball pythons. When they are scared, they turn into a little ball.” Wallace is dying of breast cancer, but a stranger wouldn’t know. She has a ...

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Countless times as a patient both at two hospitals in New York City, I have witnessed doctors arrogantly waltzing into an examination room and arriving not alone but with an entourage. Like Greeks bearing gifts, they arrived with something unwanted and threatening: medical students, interns, residents, and fellows. And not once, in all the many times that I have been subjected to this ignominious practice, was my consent ever obtained ...

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I am sitting in my hospital room in a bone marrow transplant unit in a European city. I am a patient who has recently received a stem cell transplant. I am U.S. citizen, but I am a resident of a country with a single-payer health system. The insurance system here covers 85 percent of the population. And participation is mandatory, although high earners can opt out by purchasing private insurance. ...

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