About a year ago, I had an interesting encounter on my way back home to Texas after visiting my parents. I was casually chatting with an older female acquaintance as I got situated on the plane. She asked me what kind of medicine I practice. This woman is in medicine, not a physician, but knowledgeable about the varying specialties. I told her that I was an internist working as a ...

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The front desk staff member who checks you in at your primary care physician’s office is 64 years old with a history of hypertension and coronary artery disease. She unexpectedly became a widower five years ago and is planning to work until the age of 68 to secure adequate retirement savings. She is worried about contracting SARS-CoV-2 from a patient as they check-in despite being vigilant about her personal hygiene ...

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As I change out of my scrubs in the resident lounge bathroom, I am exhausted and numb. I put on sweatpants and a T-shirt, taking care of folding my scrubs to avoid touching the dirty spots. I wipe my phone and keys with an antibacterial and antiviral hospital wipe, and place them into my bag. I hang my white coat on a wall hook in my workroom, my stethoscope in ...

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He was supposed to be the first patient of the day — not the last. He started as a "no-show" on an already overbooked afternoon office schedule. A gift of sorts, I thought, making clinic a little bit easier and a tiny bit quicker. But Jim showed up hours later in my waiting room. The front office staff asked if I was willing to squeeze him in, presenting me a ...

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Not in hospitals. Not in the clinics. Not spending an hour suturing a laceration, so the resident is available to help others. Not reminding the team that it's the day, and we should consider stopping the antibiotics. Not presenting on the latest COVID-19 treatment updates during rounds. Not writing the history and physical for the 4th admission the morning  - or for that matter, the progress notes and discharge summaries that are piling up. Not ...

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I work at a hospital that, like many others, has taken significant steps to prepare for a surge of COVID-19 cases in the next days to weeks. Many of our residents were sent home while assigned to elective services where we are "nonessential," to reduce our risk of exposure and deepen the bench of back-up providers. As I sit at home, preparing for what’s to come, my mind keeps wandering ...

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced several measures guiding the care of patients during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Another important action that will immensely help the health care workers at the forefront is to reduce the documentation requirements for all patients. Health care workers should be unshackled from endless documentations freeing up their time and resources to take care of the increasing number of ...

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I'm a medical doctor. Day to day, I focus on the practice of emergency medicine. I've never considered myself an alarmist. Actually, I've been trained to be calm in the face of tragedy. Many of my friends in business are concerned that the medical community and politicians are overreacting to the novel coronavirus. They are worried that the economy is being sacrificed to save a few people. Comparisons to yearly ...

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We represent the front lines in this ongoing crisis, and we are disheartened by not only the lack of support but overwhelming greed from just about all of you. We have kept our mouths shut and practiced medicine, providing excellent patient care, while many of you became incredibly wealthy on the backs of our hard work. Many of you have not touched or cared for a patient in years; some of ...

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The waiting room is empty, and I take signout on five patients. The patients that typically line the hallways waiting for beds, for stress tests, for MRIs all stayed home. The familiar drunks still get their blister-packed turkey sandwiches. There’s a trickle of patients onto my side: a middle-aged woman who lost vision and a prematurely grey man clutching his distended belly that tightens like a drum as I lay ...

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I am an internal medicine physician directly taking care of patients admitted to the hospital who are COVID-19 positive or those who are being tested for COVID-19. Last week, my hospital created a special team dedicated to taking care of these patients. During that time, the hospital was eerily quiet: the ED no longer had patients lying in stretchers, and the inpatient medicine teams were carrying half of the patients ...

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It began last week in our neighborhood, between the locals, who, out for a breath of fresh air, and dutifully in line with the new social distancing rules, began to shout back and forth through the crisp March air. “Good morning! I hope you’re well!” “Good morning! We’re well! I hope you are, too!” Then goodwill took over the neighborhood email chain. Who needs a casserole? Just let us know! We’ll drop one off at ...

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I spent the last week working in a large community hospital in a state with a soaring number of coronavirus cases. I previously had a few days off while this whole situation was escalating, and heard from colleagues that our hospital was taking huge measures to prepare for the onslaught. New protocols were being put in place, there was a scramble for personal protective equipment (PPE), and the hospital had ...

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There's a saying in medicine that: "If you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail." It's our way of acknowledging that we all suffer from a particular set of blinders unique to our own specialties. Usually, our focused way of viewing the patient facilitates our ability to serve them, to see their problem, and fix it. Occasionally, it prevents us from seeing that there may be a deeper meaning ...

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As I hug my younger daughter's little head at school drop-off, the calming aroma of her hair fills me with peace. She scurries across the schoolyard toward her 2nd-grade classroom, her big backpack bouncing up and down, seemingly with its own agenda and dwarfing her tiny frame. As soon as I leave the school, my focus switches. I'm at the edge of my patient's hospital bed, reviewing the day's treatment goals. ...

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Medicine is a difficult calling. You already know the sacrifices. As an undergraduate, you gave up time with friends and family so you could be accepted into medical school — where you worked even harder. You understand that the practice of medicine requires you to take responsibility for the care of others ... and the emotional toll that comes with it. In this profession, it's easy to feel like you're alone. Our ...

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The elevator area on the ground floor of our hospital is split. As you enter, the common elevators are on the left, and to the right is a set of double doors, with a sign posted reading, “AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY.” And behind those doors are the employee elevators, elevators for hospital beds, and large elevators where we can run a code while traveling up or down. The employee elevators are private, ...

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An excerpt from Health Design Thinking: Creating Products and Services for Better Health. Design is the ancient practice of shaping materials to achieve goals and express beliefs. Human beings and other creatures make tools and build structures in order to survive, thrive, and dominate their surroundings. Unlike ...

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Recently, I made a doctor's appointment with a new physician at a different hospital system. During my last encounter with our family's primary care doctor, his angry, unprofessional and unnerving behavior not only scared me at the time — it scared me away for good. So forced to navigate away from crazy — I found myself with this new doctor. Upon entering the front door of the new medical center, I ...

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I can smell the wafting aroma of frying onions and tomatoes as I am upstairs, just waking for the day. I am 10 years old, and these aromas are the staple of my childhood. It brings back memories of home. I walk downstairs and see my dad stirring the tomatoes and onions in the frying pan, dancing and singing: "I am cooking for my kid!" "Kid" is the term he ...

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