Sometimes referred to as "right-to-die," "physician-assisted suicide" laws make it possible for terminally ill patients to use prescribed medications to end their lives instead of facing a protracted death. The latest state to pass legislation allowing terminally ill patients to end their lives was New Jersey. The law will go into effect on August 1. The topic of physician-assisted suicide and right-to-die is incredibly complex and emotionally charged. I'm not going ...

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One of the most popular topics in health care is the idea of universal health care coverage. You know the soundbites: “Medicare for all.” “Single-payer system.” While universal coverage sounds desirable to many, some factors must be considered. In this post, I’m going to provide an aerial view of this complicated topic. My goal is to translate this issue into patient-friendly language that all of us can understand. This topic isn’t ...

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1. Very little revolves around the patient. For a place dedicated to healing, the hospital does a poor job accommodating patients. Labs are drawn in the middle of the night, so the doctor has them early in the morning. There is no standard rounding time, so the patient is constantly awakened throughout the day. Vitals must be measured every few hours. Patients often comment about being happy to be discharged ...

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It was the 24th hour of my call shift, and I was running on fumes. Despite my weariness, I could see the first rays of morning sunlight coming through the window in my patient’s room. It was then I knew I could make it to hour 30 (quitting time). It was grueling to keep going, but hitting the 30-hour mark only required me to keep my head down and do ...

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The topic of paying for long-term care is an overlooked issue in health care. None of us want to think about living our final days in the nursing home, but statistically speaking, many of us will. How will you pay for it? What are the options? Long-term care in this country can be divided into two general classes based on funding: governmental and private payers. In terms of government programs, Medicaid will ...

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Does the flu shot cause the flu? Let me tell you, without a doubt, that the flu shot does not give you the flu. This is perhaps one of the most common misconceptions I hear as a physician. People absolutely swear by it. I’ve even had people tell me that family members got the flu shot and then died suddenly. I’m sympathetic, but how misguided! Before we talk more about the flu ...

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I’d be willing to bet most of you have heard of, or previously used, telemedicine in some shape, form or fashion.  Stated simply, telemedicine is the process of seeking care from a medical provider using your phone or laptop.  This field is exploding, and I have no doubt popularity will continue to grow as large health systems and pharmacy giants dive in. It’s easy to appreciate the convenience and efficiency of ...

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Watching patients suffer and die is not an easy thing to do. Left unchecked, I don’t think most front-line doctors would last too long immersed in that kind of setting.  First, the emotional toll would be too high to maintain over a long period of time. Second, working at the extremes of emotion doesn’t allow a physician to competently and objectively apply medical knowledge to heal disease and alleviate suffering. ...

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There’s no disputing that the opioid crisis has become a public health emergency in the United States. And not a day goes by when health care providers don’t encounter some aspect of this epidemic. Far too often, the mention of addiction spurns images of homelessness, back-alley deals and crime. While that can certainly be the case, addiction is an “equal-opportunity employer.” Allow me to share two true stories that illustrate ...

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1. Our health care system is broken, and there isn’t going to be an easy way out. Costs are too high and our outcomes too poor. There’s a lot of finger-pointing in how we got to this point, but one thing is for certain — physicians must lead the way to a better system. The heart of health care is still the doctor-patient relationship and that needs to be protected at ...

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