Part 1 of a series. The battle I walk into my parents’ home to pick my mom up for a family gathering. And like most days over the past few weeks, palpable sorrow greets me at the door. Our old dog lies sleeping on the couch, heavy with years, she’s difficult to rouse. She finally welcomes me with a geriatric tail wag and labored breathing. I glance at the ...

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Health care safety efforts have long focused on improving the behavior of providers and improving the systems of care. A proven model of safety is in the airline industry. There are undoubtedly many parallels between airline safety and health care working toward common goals. This work should continue in both industries to ensure the safety of the people they serve. The airline safety model, though, can only look at health care ...

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“The dermatology profession exists for the primary purpose of caring for the patient. The physician-patient relationship is the central focus of all ethical concerns.” - American Academy of Dermatology, Code of Medical Ethics. The doctor-patient relationship is one of profound importance and complexity. And while doctors in training often receive quality mentorship regarding their chosen specialty, many lack good mentors to guide them in the art of the doctor-patient relationship. This is ...

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Doctors are regularly deluged with advice on how to engage patients. But how can you, as a patient, get your doctor to engage with you as a person truly? Your health — and even your life — could depend upon it. A perceived absence of empathy can significantly harm physical and mental well-being. At a recent Society for Participatory Medicine (SPM) conference (I’m a member), three ...

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Dear Lord Jesus, I just finished my shift in the ER. Of course, you knew that.  But I was thinking about how often I’m ungrateful and irritable.  I know that I complain about rules and regulations, about time-stamps and metrics and satisfaction scores and all the rest.  I know I’m that guy.  I get annoyed by people who are annoying.  (I’m glad you don’t.)  I get annoyed when I’m tired, and ...

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STAT_Logo My son, Luke, was born 18 months ago with myelomeningocele, the most severe form of spina bifida. Luke and our family have faced many challenges: premature birth at 26 weeks due to complications after in utero surgery for spina bifida; a 171-day stay in the neonatal intensive care unit; 10 surgeries since birth; and more. Throughout ...

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Most urology practices in the United States do not employ male nurses or assistants, even in larger cities. This is a serious problem because approximately 75 percent of urology patients are male. Often people wrongly assume that men don't care about their modesty. In many cases, this is simply not true. Societal norms say men are not supposed to be modest that this is a sign of weakness. From childhood, males ...

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When my father reached his mid-80s, an accelerating accumulation of physical and mental functioning issues persuaded him to switch to a primary care physician in a concierge medical practice. Although the doctor’s pedigree proclaimed his competence, he mostly excelled as the medical equivalent of a hotel concierge who can magically procure hard-to-get restaurant reservations at the last minute. The doctor would see my dad on short notice and make sure he ...

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I don’t mean to pick on McDonald’s. Insert any other large retail business where customer satisfaction massively trumps every other consideration of the relationship between employee and customer. Telemedicine companies have exploded the past few years. I suspect a lot of my readers have already seen this, but just in case not, a recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine measured the correlation between customers with a cold who called ...

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I had my first mammogram at age 35, and for the next 35 years I had mammograms regularly. On my way, I'd pass the entrance to the Thomas Johns Cancer Hospital, outside of Richmond, VA, never thinking that I'd one day cross that threshold myself. When I heard the "C" word, I didn't know what to do. I wanted to run far, far away. After much grief, however, I realized that ...

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