Patient

All doctors say they want to help people in pain, but how do you know for sure?

How do you know which doctors are the ones who can appropriately comfort patients during times of suffering?

You don’t.

Anesthesiologist Dr. T talks about how medical schools don’t really screen which prospective physicians are “cavalry-ready,” or not.

“People are either ready, willing, and able to be close to human suffering – to look at a weeping man, woman, or child in the eye, talk …

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Should patients own their medical records?

Personal health records have been in the news lately, with the focus on how inaccurate they can be.

Should patients have complete access to medical records at their physician’s office or hospital?

Primary care doctor Rob Lamberts offers some thoughts on the subject. There are some parts of the record that patients shouldn’t read. “What if someone comes into the office with a child and I have …

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Why giving free care to the uninsured is good business

Walgreens made some headlines with their program to give free acute care services to those who are unemployed.

Before you think that they’re doing this out of the goodness of their hearts,

Doctors rarely would drop patients who have recently gone on Medicaid, or worse, lost their health insurance altogether. Why? As Dr. Sidorov …

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The cost of limited health literacy, and how can it be fixed?

Patients who have trouble understanding, or acting upon, the information as it relates to their health are more than twice as likely to die.

So writes Pauline Chen in recent column, where she writes about how patients need to take a more active role understanding their health. It’s indeed a big problem, especially given the trend towards a more patient-centered orientation for medical care.

But, that …

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Can patients and doctors handle the truth?

An inspiring post supporting the use of evidence-based medicine.

Often times, what’s deemed common-sense and based on ideology is proved wrong by the evidence. And it’s up to both patients and doctors to accept the findings of studies that disproves previously accepted dogma.

Physician David Newman gives us his best Jack Nicholson impression in driving that point home: “The critical question that looms …

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Susan H.: Cura te ipsum

The following is a reader take by Susan H.

To solve the current healthcare crisis
And obviate unconscionable insurance prices
We should all get requisite medical degrees,
And minister alone,
To our own maladies.

This may present a quandary
To the Juris Doc., M.D.;
What will the legal remedy be
For a literal personal injury?

Multimorbidity, and why it’s difficult to care for complex medical patients

The majority of patients on Medicare have several medical issues to contend with.

For instance, according to this piece in the NY Times, “Two-thirds of people over age 65, and almost three-quarters of people over 80, have multiple chronic health conditions, and 68 percent of Medicare spending goes to people who have five or more chronic diseases.”

And, often times, these patients are seeing anywhere from five …

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Adopting hospital quality measures too quickly can harm patients

The zeal to rapidly implement quality measures to improve patient care has had some unintended consequences.

Bob Wachter writes about the latest episode, namely, tight control of glucose in intensive care patients.

Initial studies in 2001 showed a marked improvement in mortality when sugars were closely monitored, but since then, recent data has actually concluded the opposite.

Citing a recent NEJM study, not only were deaths, …

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Can watching the Super Bowl cause you to die?

Football fans may want to engage in some relaxation techniques or anxiety management prior to the big game.

MedPage Today
reports on a study where researchers looked at the 1980 Super Bowl, where the (then) Los Angeles Rams lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The game was “high-intensity, [where] the lead changed hands seven times. The game was played in nearby Pasadena, and the Rams had been in …

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Can you understand the Patients’ Bill of Rights?

Consider that the average American reads at an eighth-grade reading level.

That’s a problem when you consider how complicated and dense the actual Patients’ Bill of Rights one typically receives at health care institutions.

There is no federal bill of rights, so the document’s complexity can vary by state. A recent study showed that almost half of the states’ bills required a level equivalent to two years …

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Are firefighters becoming too fat?

A study showed that nearly all of recent Boston firefighting recruits were either overweight or obese.

And, of those who were classified as obese, nearly half failed the required treadmill test. Ordinarily, this probably wouldn’t make news, as it’s well documented how slovenly American society has become.

But, because firefighters do serve a public safety function, it should be noted that they “depended on one another …

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Do not resuscitate or Allow natural death, does it make a difference?

Do words matter, or is it just semantics?

A recent article in the USA Today highlights a study showing that nurses, student nurses and people with no health care backgrounds all “reported a greater likeliness to forgo resuscitation if ‘allow natural death’ was used.”

Palliative care physician Christian Sinclair sheds more light on the topic, noting the ambiguity of “Allow natural death.”

“What did it …

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Poll: Should we loosen the restrictions on organ donation?

Patients in need of a kidney often wait years for a suitable donor.

Instead of waiting, more patients are taking matters into their own hands by arranging private kidney transactions, through internet classifieds on Craigslist or social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace. Those who seek organs outside the traditional system can potentially save up to ten years of waiting.

But ninety percent of the transplant centers in …

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Do computers interfere with the doctor-patient relationship?

Lost in the zeal of those supporting electronic medical records is how computers can depersonalize the patient encounter.

In a nice op-ed in The New York Times, pediatrician Anne Armstrong-Coben talks about how doctors now have to make a concerted effort to look up from a computer screen simply to maintain eye contact with a patient. “I advise teenagers to limit computer time,” she writes, “as I …

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Are patients who enter hospice care really abandoned by their primary care doctors?

A recent study on hospice care has been making mainstream media headlines, and, of course, doctors are cast in a negative light.

The study, from the Archives of Internal Medicine, concluded that patients felt abandoned by their primary care doctors upon transfer to hospice care, and that the “feelings of abandonment resulted from lack of closure for patients and families.”

Palliative care physician Christian Sinclair gives …

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Don’t have a GI bleed on the weekend, and why you’re more likely to die on Saturday and Sunday

Patients don’t choose the days they get sick.

There are several studies, specifically dealing with heart attacks, showing that the mortality rate increases when a patient visits the hospital during the weekend.

It appears that the same goes for upper GI bleeding. MedPage Today discusses a recent study showing that “patients with nonvariceal upper gastrointestinal hemorrhage had a 22% increased mortality risk on weekends, and those …

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Can a doctor sue a patient for a negative online review?

That’s exactly what’s happening in this case in San Francisco.

Angered by a billing dispute with his chiropractor, a patient posted a negative review on the online review site, Yelp. Now he has to defend his review in court, which is, even if the case is thrown out, not a chance many patients are willing to take.

Indeed, if the medical profession really wants to shut …

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Doctors dealing with difficult patients, is it the fault of young physicians?

A study released last week reported doctors found that one in six patients were “difficult.”

In addition, physicians who reported these difficult encounters tended to be young and female, leading to a 12-times increased risk of burnout.

Like any relationship, be it a marriage, job, or one between a physician and a patient, not all encounters are going to go smoothly. The editorial commenting on …

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Using checklists in the ICU, a real world patient safety success story

Initially skeptical of using seemingly commonsense checklists in the intensive care setting, an infectious disease specialist is now a convert supporting the practice.

In his regular Washington Post piece, Manoj Jain writes about his hospital’s initiative in conjunction with patient safety guru Donald Berwick. The program, instituted in 2002, required checklists to be followed prior to common ICU procedures, such as the insertion of central lines, endotracheal …

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Should hotels be required to have AEDs?

If your heart goes into ventricular fibrillation in a hotel, shouldn’t an automatic external defibrillator (AED) be on hand within minutes?

Surprisingly, that isn’t the case in the majority of hotels. A recent story in the WSJ points to the fact that no more than 20 percent of hotels have such devices.

The reason? Liability, and the questions surrounding Good Samaritan laws, which some lawyers …

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