The trouble began when I needed to open the electronic health record (EHR) system for the tenth time that day. EHRs have significantly changed the way we practice medicine. They have completely eliminated the need for storage and transport of paper charts, reduced prescription errors secondary to illegible handwritings of physicians and provided an excellent platform to maximize billing for services rendered. However, in terms of creating a smooth workflow ...

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Mr. Smith was a sixty-eight-year-old man who came to the Veterans Affairs hospital where I was a medical student complaining of chest pain. “With chest pain, it’s all about the story,” my resident, the physician in charge of our team, said. We talked to him to find out what he was doing when it started, how long it lasted, how intense it was if it was still there. His electrocardiogram hadn’t shown ...

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I'm not much of a tennis fan, but I am a fan of Serena Williams. Who wouldn't be after hearing her story? Her rise to the upper echelon of athletics was remarkable, and her longevity is incomparable. All the while, she has challenged the sporting world's notions about who and what an elite tennis player is supposed to be. I watched her interviews after this year's Wimbledon finals and was ...

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There are at least 50 words in the Eskimo languages for snow, 25 in mainstream Swedish, and supposedly 180 or so in the Sami language of the nomadic inhabitants of the northernmost parts of Norway, Sweden, and Finland. But there are even more words than that for “chest pain” among my patients, many of whom do not consistently or fully comprehend the English phrase, “If you have chest pain, call 911 ...

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I was a little taken aback when Dr. C. changed my patient from warfarin to one of the novel anticoagulants. And one I seldom use, at that. I have only worked with her for about three years, and we seem to come from the same mold: seasoned family docs with a penchant for teaching and patient empowerment. I had not imagined she would step in and completely change my treatment plan ...

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"If there is a physician on the plane, please press your call light!" The vast majority of doctors who have flown on airplanes have heard this, and most of us are willing, if not entirely eager, to respond. What follows is usually a far from ideal encounter with inadequate information, too much noise, a cramped space to work in and little knowledge of what is expected or even possible. My experiences (I ...

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As an advanced heart failure and transplant cardiologist, I witness plenty of tragedy. But I don’t lay awake at night anymore grieving bad outcomes — that is the privilege and purview of loved ones. While family and friends may move through Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ classic stages of grief, doctors do not have that luxury. To give tragedies a purpose, I take three steps when faced with bad outcomes: Separate fault from ...

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My 80-year-old patient presented with symptoms and signs of kidney failure. I hospitalized him and asked for the assistance of a kidney specialist. We notified his heart specialist as a courtesy. A complicated evaluation led to a diagnosis of an unusual vasculitis with the patient’s immune system attacking his kidney as if it was a foreign toxic invader. Treatment, post kidney biopsy, involved administering large doses of corticosteroids followed by a ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 68-year-old man is evaluated at a follow-up appointment. He has a 7-year history of heart failure secondary to ischemic cardiomyopathy. Over the past 6 months, he has had three hospitalizations for exacerbations of his heart failure. He currently has exertional dyspnea while getting dressed, and his maximal activity level is ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 70-year-old man is admitted to the hospital with a 1-hour episode of left arm and left leg weakness. He is diagnosed with a transient ischemic attack. The patient has a history of hypertension and type 2 diabetes mellitus and a 30-pack-year history of smoking. Family history is noncontributory. His medications ...

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