Periodically we should reflect on what challenges face patients and physicians.  Over the past few days, I have worked on a list of the issues that concern me the most.  I welcome suggestions for expanding the list. 1. Diagnostic errors. All patient care requires that we make the proper diagnosis.  Too often we make errors.  A recent paper estimated that 30 percent of cellulitis admissions did not have cellulitis.  A similar ...

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How important is it for a doctor to want to be a doctor? At first glance, that question is ludicrous. The path to becoming a practicing physician is so long and tortuous that no one would do it if they didn't want to. Right? First, there's the four years of undergraduate education, then four years of medical school, then at least three years of residency. No one has ever suggested that ...

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October is the epitome of academic conference season. Returning home, suitcase laden, and a belt-hole wider from lost promises of exercise, and plans to “watch what I eat” while on the road, I am ready to get back into my routine. All the same, I come back refreshed by a new flavor to the mundane routine of conference experiences past. At the three conferences that I attended this fall, women ...

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A strange thing happened last year in some the nation’s most established hospitals and health systems. Hundreds of millions of dollars in income suddenly disappeared. This article, part two of a series that began with a look at primary care disruption, examines the economic struggles of inpatient facilities, the even harsher realities in front of them, and why hospitals are likely to aggravate, not address, health care’s rising cost issues. According ...

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The presidential symposium at this year’s Annual Meeting of the Child Neurology Society of America in early October in Kansas City raised many eyebrows. The first presentation of this symposium focused on burnout rates among neurologists around the country. Many of my colleagues felt that this was an inappropriate choice, especially with so many trainees and young child neurologists in the audience. Typically, the presidential symposium at a conference of such ...

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It’s no doubt that the health care conundrum our nation is facing is fraught with high-risk hypotheses and their unpalatable consequences. Complicating this further is the business-minded nature of many lobbyists and policy-makers influencing our government’s decisions, including President Trump's. This is particularly timely given the recent executive orders Mr. Trump has unilaterally implemented that both sides of the aisle are concerned about. As a physician with a top priority ...

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Flu season is upon us, and with it a chance to test out my persuasion skills on a deeply skeptical public. Consider this recent patient of mine, a young man in college who came in for an ankle sprain. “While you’re here, why not get a flu shot?” I asked. He looked at me as if I were a car mechanic offering a few more add-ons to his maintenance exam. “Oh, I don’t ...

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The tide is finally rising under the idea of health care for all in America. It is no longer possible to tar this simple and ubiquitously implemented idea as a bid to “take away our freedom” or “destroy the free market.” Hearteningly, the debate is shifting towards the harder questions of when, and how. One popular idea is to expand Medicare to cover all Americans — essentially turning the government into ...

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In 1729, a prescient Jonathan Swift wrote an essay that has a place in the health care debates of 2017. “A modest proposal for preventing the children of poor people from being a burthen to their parents or country, and for making them beneficial to the publick” reads almost like the title of a modern academic manuscript. Then, as now, it was important to look past the title before re-tweeting, ...

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Prescription opioid abuse is one of the United States’ greatest public health challenges. Approximately 97.5 million Americans consume opioids annually, and around 90 people die every day from opioid overuse. The last time in recent history a health care crisis garnered this much public attention was following the release of the 1964 “Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health” correlating smoking to heart disease ...

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