What About Recovery” is a provocative essay by Yale professor Lenore Buckley, MD, in JAMA. She writes in detail about the death of her 68-year-old brother in a hospital. She felt his doctors did not do enough to help him recover because his nutritional and physical therapy needs were not met. However, there’s more to it. She calls out the system existing in every hospital I’m aware of writing, ...

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STAT_LogoWhat if I told you that, as your doctor, I’d rather listen to your memoir than to your lungs? Or that while I find the sound of a beating heart a marvel to behold, I’m more interested in hearing the jazz song that you wrote or talking about the words tattooed on your left wrist. What if ...

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“Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.” - Mahatma Gandhi Burnout among physicians is at an epidemic proportion. National data suggests that more than 50 percent of our workforce is burned out, and this trend has been across the board from physicians in training to practicing physicians. Some of the specialties are more affected than others. Repercussions of provider burnout on health care ...

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I previously suggested that transitioning from the traditional inpatient care model to the hospitalist model inadvertently motivated providers to hospitalize more patients, specifically borderline sick patients.  Our example was a 74-year-old woman with pneumonia whose path to admission met less resistance with a hospitalist at the helm. The question I posed at the end was this: model aside, should we admit that patient or not?  What’s best ...

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Why is your hospital always full? Actually, it’s more than full.  You have twenty boarders in the ED. You turned your postop recovery unit into an overnight surge center.  Every day administrators beg you to please, please discharge patients, if possible before 11 a.m.  You’ve hired an army of case managers, dissected the discharge process, and held countless capacity management meetings, but you’re still bursting at the seams. It wasn’t always ...

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As a hospitalist, like most in health care, I am afflicted by the slow march of thousands of mouse clicks on the electronic health record (EHR) every day I work.  But after starting a new job and learning a new EHR, I have become painfully aware of the volume of alerts that pop up when I place orders.  Don’t get me wrong: I appreciate being informed that a patient has ...

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A lot has been spoken and written about clinical documentation already. In spite of that, many hospitals still struggle in getting the best out of their doctors when it comes to documentation quality. And although we can cite various reasons for this, we can all safely agree that the hospital EMR is the single biggest influence when outcomes to efficiency and quality of documentation — both in terms of compliance ...

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I was recently seeing a rather complicated medical patient in the hospital. We were treating both a heart and kidney condition, and things were not going so well. To spare anyone non-medical who is reading this the scientific details of the bodily processes involved, we were essentially balancing hydrating, with the need to get rid of excess fluid. After seeing the patient, I spoke with the nurse, went over the ...

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First impressions are critical. We are taught early in our careers that first impressions truly matter. Whether interviewing for medical school or a residency program, our goal is to make a positive first impression in hopes of making the cut at each checkpoint in our early careers. These processes in our academic lives and careers are exhausting. As residencies and medical schools are becoming more competitive, the importance of first impressions ...

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I am considered a “xennial” physician. Not quite a millennial — but also not fitting into the generation of the respected preceptors I had in medical school and residency. I took my MCAT via paper and pencil. My mini boards during my clinical rotations were on paper and pencil. All of my licensing and board exams were computerized. It was not an option to sit at home and log on to ...

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On the outside, most American hospitals appear completely modernized. If resources are utilized correctly, they appear equipped for any disaster, any CMS audit and any surprise joint commission inspection that may come. The procedural appearance of hospitals seems robust and reflective to medicine in the 21st century. However, the framework for the daily function of many American hospitals is architecturally weak and weathered (metaphorically speaking). With the progression of times ...

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Two years ago, when I was still in residency I happened to be on overnight call the day prior to election day. An associate program director of my residency program asked me if I wouldn't mind being a doctor of record who evaluates whether I agree a patient is too sick to go to the polls. They forwarded to me names of patients who expressed interest in voting and were already ...

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Not knowing what else to do after finishing my pediatric residency 15 years ago, I became a general pediatrician. Not knowing how to find a job halfway across the country and closer to home, I relied on a recruiter from a smallish town in South Dakota to woo me into private practice. Not knowing how to choose my future partners, I let them choose me. Despite my unbelievably naive approach to ...

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This past week was one of those weeks looming ahead of me that I was already dreading as I entered into it. I was to be working through another holiday and following a string of nights, and I would have a quick turnaround into a mid-shift. As a nocturnist by choice, I rarely work mornings or mid-shifts. I find the nights busy but also less intrusive — i.e., less administrative ...

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When you or a loved one is sick or injured, health care decisions are fundamentally a matter of trust.  You trust your physician will have the answers you need, because you know that, as a highly-trained medical professional, they’re qualified to make the best recommendation for each and every patient under their care. Physicians receive some of the most rigorous education and training of any profession. They spend the better part ...

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The surgical team filed out of the patient’s room. I looked over my shoulder to see a shaken daughter holding the wrinkled hand of her quiet, elderly mother who lay in the bed. I shuddered as I thought of the surgery her body would endure the next day. I knew I needed to return to her room later in the day to find out more about her history. After rounds ...

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I learn all manner of interesting things from the information sheets posted on the walls of the employee bathrooms at my hospital. I learn, for example, about upcoming CME offerings for advance practice providers, how many seconds one has to scrub the hub of a central line, and what the new process is when nurses need to call in sick. They call a specific phone number and state that they ...

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Being a hospitalized patient is perhaps one of the most disempowering experiences an individual can face (besides being in war, or a prisoner). Patients face constant uncertainty; having no idea what time their physician will visit, when they will be taken for their tests, or who will suddenly interrupt them again with a demand - perhaps an early morning blood draw, or yet another round of interrogation and uncomfortable examination ...

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In 2002, when I began my first hospitalist job, I was a dyed-in-the-wool hospital medicine convert, convinced that the transfer of inpatient care to true specialists in hospital medicine (hospitalists) would dramatically improve the quality and efficiency of inpatient care, increase patient satisfaction and decrease costs. By 2008, I had developed serious doubts, which prompted me to publish an editorial in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, entitled “The Expanding or Shrinking ...

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Alvin is a 42-year-old man who was never really given a chance. His parents both had severe alcohol use disorder. At age 12, his parents encouraged him to skip school to sell marijuana in order to fund their drinking. As his parents began using various illicit drugs, Alvin started selling larger amounts of marijuana to foot their bill. Eventually, marijuana was not ...

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