We’ve all heard the excuse or explanation that "it’s society’s fault," to explain someone’s failure.  We hear expressions like this often when an individual has committed a crime or simply failed to succeed.  Personal accountability is diluted as we are told that this person came from an imperfect home, had no role models or ample education. These arguments are often wielded by those who have been favored with society’s blessings and ...

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The American Cancer Society (ACS) recently released new guidelines regarding colorectal cancer screening for the average-risk individual. The big news is that they now recommend that screening for colorectal cancer begin at age 45 rather than age 50. This reduction in the starting age was in reaction to recent data showing that colon cancer is increasing in younger Americans for unclear reasons. By screening people at a younger age, ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 78-year-old man is evaluated for symptoms of dysphagia that began 2 weeks ago. When he eats, he starts coughing after the first bite of food and occasionally has nasal regurgitation. On physical examination, blood pressure is 135/90 mm Hg, pulse rate is 78/min, and respiration rate is 12/min. Left-sided weakness is ...

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The two-page letter of complaint was typed on crested letterhead. The words "utter disappointment" jumped off the page, bold-faced and caps-locked. "The doctors left me to bleed," she wrote, banging on the exclamation key as if she was firing lasers in a game of Space Invaders. "I was hemorrhaging, and they did nothing except pop in and tell me it would stop." The tirade was directed toward me and the ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 38-year-old man is evaluated in follow-up after a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis. Ten days ago he was started on prednisone, 60 mg/d, but his symptoms have not improved. He has six to nine bloody bowel movements per day and moderate abdominal pain. He has decreased his oral intake ...

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"I can’t stand the site of blood!" We’ve all heard that adage. Blood can provoke emotional reactions from even steely muscle-bound bodybuilders. We gastroenterologists routinely receive fearful phone calls from patients who have observed even minor rectal bleeding. Fortunately, in most of these cases, there is a benign explanation for the sanguinary seepage. If blood repels you, then gastroenterology should not be on your short, or even long list of professions under ...

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Many medical organizations have recently been promoting focused and individualized lab testing for routine screening or when pursuing a diagnosis. Research has shown that the “shotgun” approach to lab testing usually leads to further invasive testing which has not been proven to significantly alter morbidity or mortality. Additionally, tests rely on pre-test probabilities and can have false-positive or negative results and ...

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Eons ago, there was a television show where a non-human character would yell out, "Warning, warning," when he sensed imminent danger. The series was called Lost in Space where we were entertained by a set of quirky characters on a cheesy set. We loved that stuff. It’s hard to imagine today’s millennials and younger folks being transfixed, as we were, with the deep television dramas of our day. Who could ...

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Physicians are the building blocks of value-based care, yet the cumulative human and financial cost of our decisions are mostly hidden from us. Instead, our reality is analogous to being on a diet and a budget at a restaurant that doesn’t put prices or calorie counts on the menu. We need and want cost transparency. A survey from Deloitte University discovered cost is a part of ...

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A few weeks ago, I saw a patient some gastro issues. So far, nothing newsworthy here since I am a gastroenterologist. I ordered a CT scan colonography, a special CT scan that is designed to view the colon in detail. It’s the CT scan version of a colonoscopy. Why didn’t I simply perform a colonoscopy, which, unlike a CT scan, would contribute to my retirement fund? That’s an easy one. ...

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