Remarkable improvements in advanced life-saving therapies have brought chronic disease management to the forefront of American health care. Today, we see more patients that have complicated conditions. Often, these patients are admitted to the hospital with acute symptoms related to chronically managed conditions such as heart failure, lung diseases or cancer. These patients can end up in the intensive care units and require critical care such as ventilators, dialysis and other ...

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In his soulful book, How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter, the late surgeon and author Sherwin Nuland describes one of his patient encounters as a medical student. The patient, a 50-year-old man, presented to the hospital after a heart attack. A few hours later, the patient suddenly collapsed pulseless and unconscious. Training in an era when there was no defibrillator or CPR, the author notes:

For reasons I cannot explain to ...

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Every morning around 5 a.m., the overnight intern updates me on what happened to the patients on my service. In a hospital where disease knows no hour, the nights can often be just as busy as the days. “Just letting you know, his wound seemed a little wet to me. Maybe it’s starting to get infected.” “Good to know. We may have to change the dressing more frequently.” “And this patient had constant ...

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