If Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel gets his wish, tomorrow’s physicians won’t deserve to be paid as well as physicians today because they won’t be as well trained. Dr. Emanuel, a brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a chief apologist for the Affordable Care Act, is the lead author of a startling opinion column in the March 21 Journal of the American Medical Association.  He argues that there is “substantial waste” in ...

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If you live in southern California, you can’t miss the billboards advertising laparoscopic gastric banding at “1-800-GET-THIN” outpatient surgery centers.  They feature happy people who’ve lost 100 pounds or more, and urge you to “let your new life begin” by having a “lap band” inserted.  Fees at these centers are much lower than they are at university medical centers or other major hospitals. Recently, however, those surgery centers and their owners ...

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There's been a great divide between the medical and surgical specialties ever since I can remember.   Surgeons believe internists perseverate too much when decisions need to be made.  Internists consider themselves the true intellectuals of medicine.  I suppose anesthesiologists like me fall somewhere in the middle--we work in surgery, but have to take care of all the medical problems the patient brings to the OR table.  Does that make us ...

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Back in the 1990’s, my husband and I spent a year working at one of the largest hospitals in West Virginia.  The patients were the nicest people in the world, and the hospital staff was terrific—kind, generous, and hard working.  Some of the surgeons were excellent, but others definitely were not.   My husband (a cardiac anesthesiologist) and I had to cope with surgical complications the likes of which we had ...

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The glittering commercialism and noisy cheer of the holiday season can be stressful for any of us.  But for the parent who’s lost a child during the past year, facing the first Thanksgiving and Christmas with an empty place at the table can make already unbearable grief so much worse. No one in modern America expects a child to die.  Children only die in nineteenth century novels and third-world countries, or ...

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No matter how quickly you tried to switch the television channel lately, you probably couldn’t escape the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray or avoid hearing about propofol, an anesthesia drug that can be fatally easy to use. What you may not have heard is that the American people just dodged a serious threat to their anesthesia care, and most don’t know how near a miss it was. The Centers for Medicare and ...

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