Just under half of health care workers do not get their annual flu vaccine. Some of these workers contract the flu and unknowingly transfer it to their sick hospitalized patients, and in some cases, because of them passing the flu along, those patients die.   We know the most important reason for health care workers to get vaccinated against influenza is that it is the most effective way of preventing influenza ...

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When a patient is diagnosed with a chronic disease, like diabetes or hypertension, physicians don’t merely suggest medications to lower blood sugar or blood pressure – they insist that patients take medications to protect their health. However, the recommendation to get an annual influenza (flu) shot to prevent flu is often not as emphatic. Research has shown that patients are much more likely to get a flu shot when it ...

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Days are getting shorter and evenings are getting cooler in temperate regions in the Northern hemisphere. This also means that the flu season will be around the corner soon. Most people group influenza (flu) and cold together and refer to the “cold and flu season” as the time of the year when we expect to come down with a “flu bug” and consider it “normal” or customary. Some are even ...

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“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's view, there are few.” Shunryu Suzuki was writing about Zen beginners and masters, but this concept applies to the practice of medicine as well. Experienced physicians are slow to accept a new paradigm, while medical students and new physicians are more open. Sometimes, what we “know” to be true is not. Despite clinical trials to the ...

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There she was — compassion. It had been so long since I had caught sight of her, I wasn’t sure at first if I recognized her. Had she had changed so much over the years or had I? She was peeking around the corner checking in to see how I was doing. I am surprised she still visits me, after the way I treated her all those years ago. If ...

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Four o’clock on a Friday afternoon is an anxiety-inducing time to be running behind in clinic as patients and staff both begin to show signs of wanting to leave. After finishing with a particularly complicated case involving chronic pain with multiple spinal and abdominal surgeries, I rushed into the room of the patient scheduled for 3 p.m. frazzled. The patient was an elderly man, seated with arms folded, looking sternly ...

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Healthy or not, everybody has his or her share of frustrations in life. The chronically ill don’t have a corner on that market! This piece focuses on frustrations that are unique to those with ongoing health issues. I’ve experienced all of them as a result of being chronically ill with a debilitating illness that settled in after I contracted what appeared to be an acute viral infection in 2001. Here are ...

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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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Robots read EKGs. Computers interpret chest X-rays. Algorithms decide which treatment a patient gets. I asked myself this question this morning, "What job can I do as a doctor that cannot be done by a computer or a robot?" And one of the first things I said to myself was, "Comfort a human." But I dwelt on this for a moment and found it’s not quite true. Because computers and robots can ...

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It has become trendy in health policy circles to believe that behavioral economic interventions are the key to health system improvement. After all, traditional economic interventions like pay per performance have generated underwhelming results, with little or no change in physician behavior. Why not try a non-financial, psychological intervention: like performance feedback! Well, a study conducted in the last couple years in Switzerland raises questions about the effectiveness of ...

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