Human life is a gift.  Death, too, can be a gift.  Is it ever appropriate for us to choose the timing of our death? Brittany Maynard, 29, was diagnosed with a stage 4 glioblastoma, an aggressive and uniformly fatal brain tumor.  With the blessing of her family and millions of supporters around the world, she ended her life in Portland, Oregon, with a fatal dose of barbiturates prescribed by a physician.  ...

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robin williams Dear Robin, You were such an inspiration.  You showed us courage in the face of adversity, making us laugh while your own soul was broken. Even now, at the time of your death, we find ourselves in a recently forgotten place where all people -- regardless of faith, color, or country of origin -- stand united, sending out love to you and your family. You ...

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The scientific literature is replete with the failure of vitamins to support diseases.  Yet, the industry is booming and people's cabinets are filled with potentially harmful, poorly studied colorful bottles that make unsubstantiated magical claims. This year, we witnessed Dr. Mehmet Oz, a celebrity doctor who frequently extols weight loss products, supplements and vitamins on his syndicated television show come under fire from regulatory committees for false claims and poor outcomes. The ...

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shutterstock_53296837 Last week, I took a 6-day vacation.  Two days before and two days after, I put in a total of 32 unpaid hours of work which was cut short by a call from my daughter asking me why I am working during my time off.  While away with my family, I ran into people of different walks of life and noted ...

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There is a new emerging health threat to our children: nicotine poisoning. The number of nicotine exposures in children reported to the National Poison Data System has more than tripled in the last year. Here’s the fact every parent should know: 1 tablespoon of nicotine oil can be lethal to a 60-pound child! When doctors were campaigning against tobacco companies through public health legislation, we did not foresee a resultant new market for ...

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When I first met Ralph, he was 82-years-old.  He suffered from shortness of breath which started when his wife of 56 years was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer.  Upon further investigation, I diagnosed him with a weak heart and a very tight aortic valve which required immediate surgery.  Ralph made it; his wife died.  Today, twelve years later, he brings me treasures from his metal detecting hobby on the ...

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Overwhelmingly, doctors’ reimbursement has been the target of government programs and insurance companies.  The idea underlying this movement has been, pay doctors less and curtail their incentive to see patients and the cost of medical care will decrease.  As a result of this faulty reasoning, we have ushered in the era of unhappy doctors, those retiring early, and those asking for extra payments to justify the hours needed to give ...

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Cardiovascular disease still remains the number one cause of death in women.  Heart attacks account for 24% and strokes 7% of all deaths.  Among minority women, these numbers are even higher.  The challenge remains that doctors traditionally have not identified women at high risk of stroke.  Internists and cardiologists do not routinely think of stroke prevention in women, and neurologists have been busy treating stroke victims and have had no ...

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I received a panic call from Jim, who had been a patient for over ten years.  His 5-year-old daughter had passed out.  Amanda was rushed to the ICU for new onset diabetes.  After stabilization, she was transferred by helicopter to a university hospital for an insulin pump insertion.  He knew that her life, his life, would never be the same. Two weeks later, I received another call from Jim.  This time, ...

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The worst news in health care is not antibiotic resistance, drug-drug interactions, hospital acquired infections, lack of communication between systems of medical records, and certainly not the alarming rate of obesity in our youth. The worst news is the increasing number of dissatisfied physicians. The physician, also known in the system as a "provider," has been the direct target of assault by the government. The logic has been that if the physician ...

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