Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 35-year-old man is evaluated for a 2-month history of upper abdominal discomfort after eating. He has recently returned from working in a rural area of a developing country. He takes no medications. There is no family history of esophageal or gastric cancer. On physical examination, vital signs ...

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Let me post a question that neither I nor readers can answer: How much of what I do during the course of a day directly benefits patients? Perhaps, I don’t want to really know as I would be dismayed at how much of my effort benefits no one. Ask a nurse who works on a hospital ward, how much of his or her effort is directly applied to patient care. I would ...

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Diverticulitis is a common and sometimes serious problem that affects several hundred thousand people each year. Diverticulitis is the condition where small outpouchings or “pockets” in the wall of the large intestine called diverticula become inflamed and infected, and typically presents as a constant lower abdominal pain, associated with fever or chills, and often bloating or constipation symptoms. Despite becoming even more common in recent years, not much is understood ...

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If any reader has heard of C. difficile, affectionately known as C. diff, then I presume you have had closer contact with this germ than you would have liked.  It’s an infection of the colon that can be serious, or even fatal.  There isn’t a hospital in the country that isn’t battling against the infection. We are not winning the war against this crafty and cunning adversary. While the infection is not ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 32-year-old woman is evaluated for a 2-month history of weight loss, abdominal cramping, and loose stools. Her stools are malodorous, but she has not noted any blood associated with her bowel movements. Although her appetite is good, she has lost 3.2 kg (7.0 lb). She has ...

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Gastroenterologists, as specialists, are called upon by other doctors to address digestive issues in their patients. For example, our daily office schedule is filled with patients sent by primary care physicians who want our advice or our technical testing skills to evaluate individuals with abdominal pain, bowel issues, heartburn, rectal bleeding and various other symptoms. The same process occurs when we are called to see hospital patients. If a hospital ...

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When asked to describe my career, I consider myself primarily a clinician educator.  Recently I have reflected on the influences that allowed me to have a successful career doing what I love.  This post is not meant to mention all those influencers, but just some that I recall often.  As I have thought about this post, I quickly realized that all the “heroes” that I recall focused on clinical education. ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 58-year-old man is evaluated in follow-up for hepatitis C-related cirrhosis that is complicated by nonbleeding small esophageal varices and ascites. His ascites has recently worsened and has required large-volume paracentesis three times per month. He has been on a low-salt diet, spironolactone, and furosemide. On physical examination, ...

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We all know what, in 1888, Rudyard Kipling pronounced to be the world’s oldest profession. But what’s the world’s second oldest? Hunter-gatherer? Nah, everybody did that. Primitive politician? That’s a tautology. Neolithic attorney? Nope. Too similar to the oldest. I strongly suspect that the second oldest profession was healer/magician. Fire up Mr. Peabody’s Wayback time machine, and you’d probably find that the first healers were regarded as magicians, and the first ...

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Most of us do not know the basics of economics, although we should. It impacts every one of us every day that we are alive. Yet, for most of us, once we get beyond the law of supply and demand, our knowledge of the subject starts to vaporize. I can't explain fiscal or monetary policy. While I regard economics as a science, it seems that experts routinely interpret data differently, ...

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