STAT_Logo We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak,” said Epictetus. It’s clear that the Greek philosopher wasn’t a physician in 21st century America. If you watch doctors — and many researchers do — they speak more than listen. Studies have shown that doctors interrupt or redirect patients within the first ...

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shutterstock_86451016 In mid-January, a patient called me from her pharmacy, frantic. Her asthma inhalers came to $168 -- a sum that she hadn’t been prepared for. But she can’t live without those inhalers, so she withdrew cash from her meager savings account and skipped her blood pressure pills for that month. This is such a familiar story by now that it hardly makes ...

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An excerpt from What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine. Excerpted with permission by Beacon Press. The stat cardiac-arrest page came through on my beeper at exactly the same moment as the hospital-wide PA system announced, “Code 411, cardiac arrest, MICU.” The operator chanted the mantra over and over with ...

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Every illness is unique, and every person faces illness in his or her own way. Anna Deveare Smith, in her one-woman Broadway show "Let Me Down Easy," slips into the persona of twenty individuals who have faced an aspect of illness or death. In ninety minutes, Deveare Smith takes the audience on an existential scavenger hunt, allowing us to observe, and occasionally pluck, insights from this gathering of individuals. These individuals do ...

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The waiting area in Bellevue Hospital was full. Every chair was taken. But the people kept streaming in. More chairs had to be brought in. It wasn't clear if the room could accommodate everyone. This wasn't the emergency room or the clinic waiting area, however. It was the scene of the Bellevue Literary Review poetry and prose reading. More than 100 people poured into Bellevue Hospital on a Sunday evening to ...

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Every year US News & World Report publishes its rankings of the nation’s top 50 hospitals. Hospital administrators await this top 50 report with a tension and fervor that rivals the NFL first-draft pick. As soon as the report is released, snippets rocket their way into donor appeals, local hospital signage, and highway billboards. “Ranked X by US News & World Report” becomes a descriptor that is supposed to ...

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It’s been more than a decade since the seminal report “To Err is Human” by the Institute of Medicine.  The report made waves when it estimated that 1.5 million people are affected by medical errors and that nearly 100,000 die annually as a result of medical errors. Some of those numbers have been debated, but there is no doubt that medical error is a significant issue in medicine that needs ...

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How many hours can a doctor work? The residency regulators are back. About ten years ago, the national organization that accredits residency programs (ACGME) set out its first guidelines about how many hours a doctor-in-training can work. Interns and residents finally achieved the vaunted 80-hour workweek. New York State was 15 years ahead on this, having mandated an 80-hour work week in 1989, stemming from the Libby Zion case. Every patient wants ...

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A good chunk of every medical visit is spent writing prescriptions. Before we had an electronic medical record, this was often an arduous task, leading to serious writer’s cramp. Now the computer makes it easier on the doctor, but it doesn’t seem to have much effect on the patient. A recent article in the Journal of General Internal Medicine highlighted what most doctors have suspected all along, that a good chunk for ...

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Good health is only affordable—for the majority of the population—if it is covered by insurance. An excellent case in point is the vaccine for shingles (herpes zoster). Shingles is the revisiting of the chicken pox virus. The virus lives in the body since the first episode of shingles as a child, and then flares up during later adulthood to give shingles. Shingles is rarely life-threatening, but it is immensely painful and debilitating, ...

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