The introduction of electronic health records (EHRs) was accompanied by a great deal of fanfare. Such systems, which replace old paper-based charts in doctor’s offices and hospitals, were designed to make patient data more accurate, safer and more accessible. It was also claimed that they would make it easier for doctors and other health professionals to monitor medical care and ensure that guidelines were followed. The federal ...

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On a Saturday morning, Michael, a physician, was making his way through the hospital atrium after his weekend rounds.  On his way out, he noticed a family he knew well.  They were talking quietly and appeared distraught.  He asked them if they were okay.  They said that the husband’s mother had been admitted overnight with a malignant pleural effusion, and since all beds on the oncology floor were full, she ...

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Margaret Edson’s 1999 Pulitzer Prize winning play, Wit, tells the story of the final hours of Vivian Bearing, PhD, an English professor dying of cancer.  Early in the course of her disease, one of her doctors sees the value of her case from a research point of view and asks her to enroll in a clinical trial of an investigational therapy.  In the film version of the play, which stars ...

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George Orwell said, “If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them.”  If Orwell was right, the profession of medicine and the patients it cares for could be in big trouble.  As a result of ongoing changes in healthcare, today’s medical students and residents are being asked to write much less than in the past, with a ...

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