If any reader has heard of C. difficile, affectionately known as C. diff, then I presume you have had closer contact with this germ than you would have liked.  It’s an infection of the colon that can be serious, or even fatal.  There isn’t a hospital in the country that isn’t battling against the infection. We are not winning the war against this crafty and cunning adversary. While the infection is not ...

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There are some sad truths about being an aging male. Your muscle mass usually declines. You start feeling tired more easily. And there’s a good chance either you start losing interest in sex or start experiencing a decline in sexual performance. Here’s another truth: Your testosterone level probably ain’t what it used to be. Which raises a question: Would testosterone supplementation restore some of your youthful vitality? That is certainly what manufactures ...

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It was 5:30 a.m., and I was startled to feel the nudge of my husband’s hand on my arm while vaguely hearing the sound of my alarm going off in the background.  Although I was not prepared mentally to get up for another day, I quickly jumped out of bed so as not to allow the sound to wake my sleeping daughter in the next room. I cherished no actually, ...

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My dad died on May 11, 2003. It was Mother's Day. I was 18 years old. Those are the easy facts. The more difficult ones are those detailing the events that led to his death. My dad was so many things — a brilliant geologist, a loving father, an inventor, a pilot, and a Vietnam veteran — to name a few. He survived three tours on the front lines in ...

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asco-logo As an oncologist, I want to provide the best treatment for everyone. That should mean the best chance at a long-lasting remission, if not cure. Whatever that might take. Surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy -- a dark tunnel that I hope patients will enter and then exit, with the sun shining on the other side. But, every ...

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My spry, 90-year-old patient decided she had a urinary tract infection two weeks ago. She had difficulty urinating and the constant urge to void with no fever, no chills, no back pain, no bloody urine. She was advised to come in for an appointment the same morning, but this didn’t suit her. The alternative choice was to see her urologist who made time available that same day. She decided this ...

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No, I’m not talking about putting fentanyl into my own veins — a remarkably bad idea. I’m questioning the habitual, reflex use of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, in clinical anesthesiology practice. I’ve been teaching clinical anesthesiology, supervising residents and medical students, in the operating rooms of academic hospitals for the past 18 years. Anesthesiology residents often ask if I “like” fentanyl, wanting to know if we’ll plan to use it in ...

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Physicians can use social media to proactively define themselves online. A KevinMD keynote video excerpt.  I'm currently considering opportunities for 2018: Please visit my physician keynote speaking page to find out more.

A few years ago, as numbers of burnout, depression, and suicide among physicians continued to rise, the notion of “joy in medicine” was conceived. From conferences and books, to support groups and consultants, another health care-related industry popped up around improving provider satisfaction and fostering workplace wellness. It was well-intentioned, as these things often are, but like the familiar adage about roads and good intentions, joy in medicine seems poised ...

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Within doctors’ examination rooms, operating rooms and waiting rooms, clinicians and other staff know the importance of empathy. Caring for patients and loved ones extends beyond one’s medical skills. It also requires a good heart. As sign-up time for 2018 medical insurance approaches, patients look for a meaningful differentiator in health care providers when deciding whether to stick with their health plan, their primary care provider, and other doctors. On the ...

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For patients who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community, a medical visit can be unexpectedly stressful. LGBTQIA+ people have to keep track of who they're out to and how out they are, especially if they fit more than one letter of the acronym; some people might know they're gay, fewer people might know they're transgender, while some people probably don't know anything about their private life at all. Why does this ...

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Over the past seven seasons, Game of Thrones fans have demonstrated the ability to spot an emerging threat early on -- a quality more leaders in health care need to possess. If you've tuned into the popular HBO series from the beginning, you likely recall Ned Stark (Lord of Winterfell) forecasting doom and gloom in the show's opening episode, appropriately titled “Winter Is Coming.” Right then, you knew something bad was ...

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It’s hard to put into words the horror we all feel about the events in Las Vegas. So I won’t try. But what I will try to do is point out an often unspoken reality. Which is that those who work in emergency care constantly face terrible things with courage and skill and keep coming back for more. And everyone needs to remember that all those folks society counts on ...

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Drug overdose deaths, once rare, are now the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., surpassing peak annual deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents, guns and HIV infection. As a former public health official, clinician, and researcher, I’ve been engaged in efforts to control the opioid addiction epidemic for the past 15 years. The data show that the situation is dire and getting worse. Until opioids are prescribed ...

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The ability to access health information via the Internet is creating a generation of empowered, informed patients. While this is almost always beneficial to both patients and the patient-physician relationship, it does call for changes to traditional counseling methods. Widespread access to myriad health information sources has divided patients into two subsets: those who prefer traditional counseling and those who become “personal health researchers” or PHRs. While some patients will continue ...

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If we listen to the president, fixing the American health care system is too complicated.  It is not actually that complicated. The number one issue is cost. Even with many millions of people unable to access care, we already spend close to twenty percent of every dollar in the U.S. on health care. If we hope to include everyone in the health care system, then we need to lower health ...

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A couple of weeks ago I visited Canada. It was my first visit in a very long time. We were in Ontario, spending most of the time in the Toronto area, and also getting to visit the majestic Niagara Falls for the day. I’ve heard so much over the years about the differences between neighbors USA and Canada, and in even just a few days there, agreed that there are ...

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STAT_Logo One of Max’s friends taught him an easy way to buy shady drugs. What he learned almost killed him, and it opened my eyes to a hiding-in-plain-sight source of dangerous drugs that is amplifying the opioid epidemic. When Max (not his real name) developed pancreatitis a decade ago, his physicians prescribed opioids to ease his extreme ...

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Future generations will look back on the opioid epidemic as the greatest tragedy of modern medicine. The recent 60 Minutes special about drug distributors really highlights that manufacturing and prescribing opiates was never about the best interest of patients. The pharma companies saw a business opportunity that could be exploited by offering patients a little pill to take their pain away. What person, given the chance, would ...

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“A condition counts as a disease independently of whether there is safe and effective treatment.” - Journal of Medicine & Philosophy, August 2017 What is a disease anyway? Mrs. Jones is 90 years old and frequently experiences episodes of chest pain. She has numerous partially blocked coronary arteries, and her physician has told her to come to the emergency room because she might be having a “heart attack.” ...

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