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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I have a very interesting job: I travel around the country providing neuromonitoring to surgeons in the operating room. I’m also an anesthesiologist assistant, certified and licensed to provide anesthesia. Throughout my ten-year career in the OR, I’ve been the guest of nearly a hundred hospitals in the U.S. and the UK. No two hospitals are the same. My career has allowed me to meet hundreds of incredibly caring doctors, ...

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Imagine driving through an unfamiliar area, and there are no street signs. How would you feel? Frustrated? Scared? Angry? You would feel these emotions because you had no direction or guidance. Patients need direction when they enter the health care system. Signposting is a tool to provide direction. On the streets, there are posts that have signs. They provide direction; they tell us where we are going. Hence, the name, “signposting.” ...

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In the past few weeks, there has been a question regarding my use of the hashtag #Nof1 along with how I end the majority of my posts and tweets: Health care is delivered at the N of 1. One person even believed there might be a trademark infringement with the company N-of-1 who provides molecular testing for patients and then delivers evidenced-based medical recommendations for oncology patients. The reality is that, ...

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STAT_Logo My older sister, Jan, visited me in San Francisco last spring. “You look great,” I told her, noticing that her clothes were hanging loose; she’d been heavy most of her life. “I’ve lost 60 pounds,” she said, and I automatically congratulated her. “I wasn’t trying,” she replied. It hit me then that something was very wrong, first with ...

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Last night, my son was reading a book that was required summer reading for 6th grade. This book was published over 30 years ago. When he got to a sentence that used the word “retard,” he stopped and innocently asked, “Mom, what does that word mean?” At first, I was shocked that he did not know the meaning, but as I thought about it more, I realized this term was no ...

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On a daily basis, I am introduced to new people from all walks of life. Some sit on the board of directors, some are CEOs, some are presidents, some are middle managers and other administrators, some are investors, others are entrepreneurs, and some are physicians, nurses, case managers and even patients. I listen to people talk about the big challenges in health care. It costs too much, we have a shortage ...

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In 1996, I had an illness that nearly killed me. I was exhausted, felt awful, could barely stand up and had trouble remembering things. Yet, I somehow had to find the energy not only to take care of my newborn and 5 year old, coordinate our upcoming move, consult with doctors and other medical providers on my condition and treatment, and receive treatments that might or might not help me ...

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