It was a busy yet mundane morning. I was returning to work after having a few days off. I commenced my day by perusing patient details while sipping on some coffee and reacclimating to the customary hospital cacophony. Some patients were critical, some ready to be released. It seemed like the usual assortment of diagnoses. Next, I reviewed my calendar and strategized an action plan for the day. As I was ...

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Scientific evidence pointed to an extremely poor prognosis. Numbers and statistics emphatically declared her imminent demise. My 33-year-old patient was not going to survive. The physicians presented the data to the mother and recommended withdrawal of care, but she remained indecisive. She struggled for two days with the possibility of her young daughter dying. Her child was in the critical care unit in a vegetative state. It was a parent’s worst nightmare. I took ...

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It was a case that every physician dreads. I took a deep breath, mustered up some courage and walked towards my patient’s room. When I entered, I saw an apprehensive and anxious family who was patiently waiting for some answers. The mother was sitting at bedside with eyes closed, hands clung to a rosary and lips whispering a prayer. The patient’s sister was standing by the window, looking out with ...

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We are currently in the midst of the worst drug crisis in American history. A crisis that killed more than 33,000 people in 2015. Currently, an estimated 2.6 million people are addicted to opioids. As an internal medicine doctor, I deal with pain, addiction and opioid overdoses on a routine basis. The current epidemic that is sweeping across our nation, is deeply concerning. The U.S. Surgeon General recently spoke about the epidemic ...

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This is a story of a very special patient. A story that may change your outlook on life. When I first met her, there was an interesting aura that surrounded her. An aura of positivity and contentment. She was listening to her favorite band on her iPhone and humming along. Her carefree countenance was perfectly paired with the jovial tunes. I had admitted her to the hospital for an infected bedsore. She ...

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I recently took care of a young patient whose case left an impact on me. When I admitted him, he was fighting a lost battle with cancer. A few months prior to admission, he had been experiencing new headaches. When he sought medical attention, he was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive brain tumor that had spread to his spine, and was given a very poor prognosis. Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated quickly thereafter, ...

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A new research study recently published in the BMJ claims that medical error is the third leading cause of death in America. It is third only to heart disease and cancer. Most of the major news outlets are sensationalizing this report. A few headlines are even slowly starting to replace the phrase “medical error” with “doctor error.” Some comments I noted on social media include, “Medical errors kill eight ...

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The first time I wore a white coat was during the white coat ceremony in medical school. It was a beautiful day in New York City. Scores of young, bright-eyed medical students and their proud family members were all congregated in a ballroom, which shared its building with a bowling alley, in the heart of Harlem. It was particularly warm inside the building, and we were being served hot coffee while ...

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A few weeks ago, I woke up feeling under the weather. It was day one of seven consecutive shifts. I looked into the mirror. A sullen face with sunken eyes stared back. As I was getting dressed, I felt fatigue trying to triumph over my body. Next came a nagging and rude cough that kept interrupting my sentences. I started to feel feverish, and sure enough, I measured a temperature ...

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The first time I cried as a doctor was in residency. I was taking care of a patient who had terminal lung cancer. The first time I met him, his wife was at his bedside. The couple displayed such a positive outlook on life and seemed to have accepted the poor prognosis. He was one of the first cancer patients I took care of. Being a cancer survivor myself, I felt a ...

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