You've been swindled. At least that's the conclusion I've come to. It wasn't the hucksters or the snake oil salesman. It wasn't big business, big medicine, or some greedy hospital administrator. It was most likely pharma with a large dose of helping from your doctor. Plain and simple. I've learned quite a bit being a hospice medical director. Covering dozens of new admissions a week has given me much insight into doctor ...

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Many years ago, three doctors formed an internal medicine practice and were proud of the thousands of patients they accumulated. They were fine physicians and very dedicated to the masses who walked through their clinic doors.  They saw patients in the office, rounded at two hospitals, and visited a number of nursing homes.  This was truly a full-service practice. Around 2005, Dr. A was starting to fatigue.  He was well into his ...

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I have a confession to make. I don't understand the concept of burnout. I mean, I get the idea. Medicine is, at least when you are the kind of doctor who deals with life and death, inherently stressful. And I feel the stress. It's as if someone applied a vice grip to my insides in the middle of medical school, and it has never let up since. The pressure is ...

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I drive a fast car. Which if you know me, is quite uncharacteristic. I would say that it is one the few possessions that generally doesn't reflect upon who I am. How I chose this car, the make, and model, are a long story not to be discussed here. But let's just say that it has quite a kick. These thoughts jostled through my mind this morning as I pulled into ...

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I have come to believe that humility is an essential component of wisdom. Never have I found this truer than in the practice of medicine. In fact, for almost every atrocious professional error in judgment I have made, I can pinpoint the exact moment where I stopped being humble. Yet time and time again, humility quickly disappears when dealing with the difficult patient. In fact, the label "difficult" assumes the problem ...

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There are parts of medicine that are horrendous. Moments too painful to recount, and events that will break even the most innocent participants. And then, there is unspeakable magic. I live for the days when a patient comes to the office with a particularly vexing set of symptoms. Specialist after specialist bows their head in disagreement. Laboratory values whisper falsehoods with jeering tongues. Symptoms are transient, physical exam signs inconsistent and in ...

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At first, you'll question reality. You will hear your own words, but they'll sound foreign — apart from you. The ground will still reassuringly push back against your toes when you walk out of the room, but you will wonder if they are your feet. Like in a movie, you will negotiate the world convincingly. Yet, you are an actor playing a part. It is not the real you. Be assured ...

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His voice was gruff and his expression surly. "I don't want any more medications." His face was indented by deep clefts, remnants of eight decades of life hard lived. His tone was commanding and certain. I knew that he was fond of me, but I could feel his patience slipping. He neither asked about nor accepted his diagnosis of heart failure. I could tell him till I was blue (or he was ...

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It will start as a minor curiosity. Maybe a student will seem slightly too close to the resident on your team. When the grades are posted, you'll wonder why you didn't get honors, but he did. You might wallow for a few days. Make an offhanded comment to your fellow students. Then you'll let it go and move on. Or so you think. Until during surgery when the scrub nurse ...

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If you are planning on complying with Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), make sure to allot the appropriate time and funding necessary to update/upgrade your practice. Realize that the measures will be arbitrary, the data implementation arduous and the moments for live patient care fleeting. Expect that, no matter how Herculean the task may be, the finish line will move often and unexpectedly. Prepare to get ...

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