I recently wrote an article giving 3 reasons why any patient may not have liked their doctor. They included the physician being visibly in a hurry, appearing to brush off concerns, or giving a general sense of not caring. While no doctor deliberately sets out to do any of these things, complaints like these are all too common, unfortunately. The degree to which the practice of good medicine is ...

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One of the biggest changes to health care over the last 20 years has been the corporatization of medicine, from small independent physician practices, to large corporations that now run the show. Medicine has gone from good old Dr. Johnson’s office around the corner, to a world of boardrooms, megamergers and takeovers. This has enormous downstream effects -- not least to the way physicians practice medicine and their ...

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One of the things I am most grateful for, as a doctor who has worked in at least a dozen different hospitals over the last decade, is the broad range of experiences I’ve had and the variety of physicians I’ve met and gotten to know. I enjoy hearing experienced physicians’ perspectives on how the practice of medicine has changed from what it used to be in the 1970s to 1990s. I ...

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Hospitals are busy, hectic, and unpredictable places. Professionals who work in health care are highly trained and competent individuals, and if you are receiving acute care in America -- the standard of your treatment and access to high-quality tests and an array of specialists, is unparalleled (take it from someone who has worked in different countries). Nevertheless, the hospital experience itself, despite our best efforts, often falls short. Here are ...

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Almost a couple of years ago, I decided that I would act out on a desire that I’d had for some time: to learn to swing dance (specifically, Lindy Hop). Going back to when I was in high school in England, I’ve always had an interest in 1920s America, that started during our history classes. I find it a fascinating time of enormous progress (and for so many a big roaring ...

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Practicing medicine at the frontlines is hard. It’s damn hard. Every minute you need to be alert, ready to respond to a potential life or death situation, and be called to another important problem. The current medical practice environment -- with excessive bureaucracy, suboptimal information technology, and extreme time pressure with patients -- adds exponentially to the mix, and can make for a very stressful job. Make no mistake, even ...

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Anybody who has even a passing interest in health and wellness knows the sobering fact that a large number of medical problems that plague society today are the result of unhealthy living habits. Conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, which are reaching epidemic proportions, are directly linked to poor eating and inactivity. Official statistics show that around 70 percent of Americans are overweight or obese. We live ...

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Eye contact is one of the most basic mammalian traits that signals an interaction. Anybody who has a dog or cat at home sees on a daily basis how much animals value eye contact (and with dogs, it signals you’ve lost the battle!). In the case of health care, during frequent emotional exchanges between two human beings, it naturally follows then that simple eye contact has to be at the ...

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I recently met an old friend of mine for the evening in New York City. He’s a talented young orthopedic surgeon, who has already, in the short amount of time since finishing residency, experienced so many of the problems our health care system faces. The topic of conversation quickly turned to the current state of medical practice, the dramatic swing to corporate medicine, and the consequential loss of autonomy suffered by ...

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It’s no secret that physician job dissatisfaction is soaring to unprecedented levels, with over 50 percent of practicing physicians reporting burnout. While many factors have contributed to this epidemic in America over the last 20 years -- not least of all electronic medical records that are taking a heavy (and unacceptable) toll on physicians’ time -- this is not a phenomenon unique to the United States. I went to ...

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I was having dinner with somebody not so long ago, and the conversation turned to what life is like as a physician. I always find it interesting to have these conversations with people who are not in the medical field, especially those who have got their ideas from watching medical shows on television! The person I was speaking to on this occasion, however, wasn’t about to go down that route, ...

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I’ve always believed in looking the part as a physician. So much so that I even write about it! You may have read my piece that became widely circulated online, about why physicians should always dress to impress. The article generated quite a response, and I received a lot of interesting comments and emails. Of course, not all physicians are in a specialty where they can do so, ...

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I enjoy talking to random people about their experiences with health care. As somebody who regularly travels all over the country, for both work and pleasure (I far prefer the latter), whenever I meet people in situations where you end up talking -- be it on airplanes, a guided city tour, or at a social function -- as soon as I say I’m a physician, the conversation invariably ends up ...

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I was recently seeing a rather complicated medical patient in the hospital. We were treating both a heart and kidney condition, and things were not going so well. To spare anyone non-medical who is reading this the scientific details of the bodily processes involved, we were essentially balancing hydrating, with the need to get rid of excess fluid. After seeing the patient, I spoke with the nurse, went over the ...

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The health care experience is so much more than a buzzword to be talked about in administrative circles. Some physicians I encounter (a minority, but still enough) really scoff when they hear this term. Responses I’ve heard from doctors include: “Hospitals are not hotels!” or “If that means giving our patients as much Dilaudid as they want, then count me out!” Aside from these sweeping statements being entirely silly, they are ...

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Shock. Horror. Did you just read the title correctly, or are you seeing things? Well, after you recover from the shock of reading a line you probably never thought you could possibly see in writing -- let me tell you this: Physicians and politicians are probably as opposite as you can imagine in terms of their daily work life, guiding principles, and yes, level of respect shown to them by ...

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On November 6th voters in Massachusetts are facing a very important health care-related question. In addition to voting for political parties in the midterms, they also face three ballot questions. The first of these is whether there should be mandatory state enforced nurse-to-patient ratios. For a general medical or surgical floor, this will be no more than four patients for every registered nurse. For other types of adult floors and the ...

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The discharge process has now been recognized as one of the most crucial points at which the actions of doctors and hospitals can have a huge impact on immediate health outcomes for our patients. At a time when 30-day readmission rates are still touching almost 20 percent for Medicare patients (higher for certain patients, with up to a third of these occurring in the first 7 days), there is an ...

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A physician recently recalled to me a situation he found himself in on the last National Doctors’ Day. Those of you reading who work in health care, will already be aware that this is on March 30th every year. I have seen this day celebrated in every hospital I’ve worked in since I first came to the United States over a decade ago. I actually think it’s a nice gesture, and ...

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A few weeks ago, I was giving a day-long seminar in California on improving communication skills, optimizing the patient experience, and how this is all ultimately linked to better proven outcomes. Part of the day involved doing role plays, playing the part of doctors and patients in various difficult hypothetical scenarios. My experience of this type of group exercise is that all clinicians usually really enjoy it, when it’s done in ...

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