What would happen to physician salaries if the United States adopted a single payer system? The concept of a single payer system is a progressive ideal, and has been vociferously pursued by some left-leaning physician groups. For a variety of reasons, not least of which is the political climate in our country, I think the chances of single payer ...

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I read somewhere in the comments here something to the effect of this: "Physicians are only good for one thing: doctoring." That would explain the general ineptitude of many physicians when it comes to skills outside medicine, such as political lobbying, or business and personal finance decisions. The New York Times has written a helpful column that's required reading for any ...

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As access to medical information has become more common, patients are gaining empowerment in their medical care. And rightly so. Gone are the days where medical decisions are paternalistic in nature, with the physician leading, and the patient following. Today, an ideal medical decision has input from both patient and provider. But, have we gone too far the other way? In ...

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Every year, according to a recent study from the New England Journal of Medicine, a typical physician has about a 7% chance of being sued for medical malpractice. Surgeons almost certainly will face a malpractice claim sometime during their career.  Neurosurgeons, for instance, have a 19.1% chance of being sued in a given year, while that number is 18.9% ...

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Darshak Sanghavi recently wrote an excellent piece in the New York Times summarizing the controversy over resident work hours. The topic has been discussed here frequently, with ramifications ranging from the fact that errors arising from patient handoffs negate any benefit gained from restricting work hours, to surgeons not accumulating enough experience during their work hour-restricted training. I've ...

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With the patent for Lipitor expiring, Pfizer is considering selling an OTC version of the statin. It's generated a firestorm of debate, with doctors speculating on the impact for patients. According to Pharmalot, "an OTC version would allow Pfizer to capture some of the sales that will be lost when the Lipitor patent expires in November. In fact, Pfizer execs recently ...

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Hospitalists save money.  Until the patient leaves the hospital, at least. A recent study from the Annals of Internal Medicine ignited debate over the cost effectiveness of hospitalists. Looking at Medicare patients from 2001 to 2006, researchers found that "those who were followed by a primary care physician spent about half a day more at the hospital, costing ...

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If you're a physician or hospital that relies on Medicare payments, grim times are ahead.  Yes, even worse than the scheduled 29% payment cut that's scheduled to go into effect in 2013.  Emergency physician Shadowfax calls the debt deal "a terrible deal for health care providers." Under the contentious debt ceiling agreement, significant cuts in Medicare dollars will be ...

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The following op-ed was published on June 5, 2011 in USA Today. A patient recently asked me if I had heard about the new "wonder drugs" used to treat skin cancer. Indeed, I had. In a widely reported story in early June, two novel cancer drugs were found to benefit patients with advanced melanoma, a devastating form of skin cancer. ...

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Whenever I talk about the cost of medical education, I like to bring up this chart. It starkly illustrates just how expensive it is to train a doctor in the United States, compared to Canada and France. New York Times contributor Pauline Chen wrote a column on the issue recently.  Most doctors graduate with a debt exceeding $150,000, and ...

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