Most Saturdays, I join a therapy session down the hall from where I do my walk-in clinic. A patient of mine has a weekly session just before the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting at noon in our big conference room. Last weekend he told my behavioral health colleague that the people in the AA group who have the most solid recovery seemed to be the ones who claimed to carry a lot of ...

Read more...

How long does it take to diagnose guttate psoriasis versus pityriasis rosea? Swimmers ear versus a ruptured eardrum? A kidney stone? A urinary tract infection? An ankle sprain? So why is the typical “cycle time,” the time it takes for a patient to get through a clinic such as mine for these kinds of problems, close to an hour? Answer: Mandated screening activities that could actually be done in different ways and ...

Read more...

A lot of Americans think they should be able to make an appointment with a specialist on their own, and view the referral from a primary care provider as an unnecessary roadblock. This “system” often doesn’t work, because of the way medical specialties are divided up. If belly pain is due to gallbladder problems you need a general surgeon. If it’s due to pancreas cancer, you need an oncologic surgeon. If the ...

Read more...

Jeanette Brown had lost twenty pounds, and she was worried. “I’m not trying,” she told me at her regular diabetes visit as I pored over her lab results. What I saw sent a chill down my spine: A normal weight, diet controlled diabetic for many years, her glycosylated hemoglobin had jumped from 6.9 to 9.3 in three months while losing that much weight. That is exactly what happened to my mother some years ...

Read more...

There is a lot of talk about team-based care nowadays, and I had seen some shining examples of that, most recently when a patient at my clinic had a suicide in the family. But at the same time, there are so many decisions – judgment calls, really – that we make every single day where there isn’t anywhere near enough time to involve team members. I talk to patients all the time ...

Read more...

I haven’t counted how many times this happens every month, but I find it annoying. I send a prescription for a drug (sometimes not even expensive) to the pharmacy and soon after, I get a fax asking me (or my medical assistant) to go online and print a prior authorization form to complete and fax to the insurer, or answer numerous qualifying questions on the screen, or (worst of all) 
Read more...

Last week I had a patient with mild kidney disease and a high potassium. I thought that it would be easy to take care of. We called around to all the pharmacies from Bangor to Ellsworth to Belfast, and nobody had Kayexalate, the time-tested antidote, in stock. It happened to be on a Tuesday night with my Suboxone group starting at 5 o’clock. The patient had been there since 4; his ...

Read more...

Driving north in a snowstorm Tuesday of Thanksgiving week I certainly took my time. I left after our Suboxone clinic wrap-up conference, around 7:30 p.m., and arrived at my unplowed driveway in Caribou about 1 a.m. On the way up, I saw two ambulances, one from Caribou and one from Presque Isle, on their way back home from Bangor. I’ve got a large SUV with all-wheel drive and studded Finnish snow ...

Read more...

I’ve huddled since before we used the word for it: You want to be prepared for the patients coming in that day. “Followup MRI” – did they have it and what did it show? “Ankle pain” – do we have X-ray today? “Eye pain” – be sure to check her acuity and put her in a windowless room, and did the new fluorescein strips come in? All fast-paced, to the ...

Read more...

I have known him for over thirty years. He has been legally blind for the past five. He tends to be a practical, no-nonsense man. The other day, he seemed restless and very concerned as he lowered his voice and said: “I don’t want you to come to the conclusion that I’m crazy, but I’m seeing things,” he began. “I’m seeing children with elfin faces …” His large, thin hands were in ...

Read more...

Most Popular

Join 150,000+ subscribers

Get the best of KevinMD in your inbox

Sign me up! It's free. 
close-link
✓ Join 150,000+ subscribers 
✓ Get KevinMD's 5 most popular stories
Subscribe. It's free.