I had planned to take care of my dad at the end of his life. In 2009, Dad retired at 75 because of Parkinson's disease. Over the next couple of years, he lived in his own home. My younger brother Mark, who lived nearby, faced the first difficult milestones brought on by Dad's declining health. Mark was the one to tell Dad that he could no longer drive. And after Dad ...

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I have observed with impunity, a silent form of racism that exists in our society and in just about every American health care delivery system against people of color. If you are on Medicaid, without health care coverage, or have a low cost/low premium insurance plan, you are more likely than not to be an ethnic minority. After a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or trauma, as an ethnic minority, you have ...

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My head used to be my greatest asset, and back in 2012, I had my life on track because of it. With a medical education and a few years of work experience on my back, I felt that I had options in life. I had even saved up to be able to buy a home. Then illness caught up with me. And not just any illness, but one of the kinds ...

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"Eventually, this thankfully passed. Now, almost three years later, I know that this loss will always be with us. Miriam was beautiful, she was our only girl, she was perfect for our family, and she’s always missing. Still, my memories of being in the hospital are incredibly sad but also peaceful. In part, this is due to the incredible support and love ...

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Children and teens with headaches and migraines have been affected in a variety of ways by these pandemic times. Thinking back, there has been a difference between last spring and this fall and the effect on my patients, particularly in the school environment.

In the early days last Spring, many of my patients who had been having a hard time getting to school every day due to ...

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A middle-aged man lies on a gurney. Anxious. Work boots. Blue jeans.  Stained white shirt. Rough hands. "Hi! I’m your doctor. What brings you to the emergency room?" The patient looks at me, puzzled. He’s Spanish speaking. It's the middle of the night, and I’d rather not use the translator line. We start in broken English – then I reach for the phone to call the language line. He collapsed at work, and ...

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What is caregiver burnout? How can you recognize the symptoms? What are tips for new caregivers? What can caregivers teach clinicians? R. Lynn Barnett is the author of What Patients Want: Anecdotes and Advice and My Mother has Alzheimer’s and My Dog Has Tapeworms:  A Caregiver’s Tale. She can be reached on Twitter Read more...

Twenty-five years have passed since I finished my residency, and a lot has changed. Back then, we hand wrote all our notes, and the only time we looked at a computer screen was to obtain laboratory results. Now, residents spend more time in front of a computer screen than at the bedside. I contend that electronic health records (EHR) are an obstacle to learning the art and practice of medicine during ...

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"As a runner, my pulse rests around fifty, but the ICU team had worried when it dipped to thirty-five, and my blood pressure hovered around ninety over fifty. Understandably, bags of saline were hung, and steroids were added. My headache improved, but my ankles disappeared, and I was often short of breath. Upon discharge, I went into full diuresis mode and ...

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The third week of September is Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week: a time to fundraise, light up buildings in green, and hold events that highlight mitochondrial disease research and awareness. My family has never heard of mitochondrial disease until 2017, when our newborn daughter, Miriam, tragically died from it at seven weeks old. Our family felt a profound sense of loss and tried out best to participate in awareness and fundraising efforts ...

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The most persistent problem I encounter is not nerve pain or slipped discs. It’s the tenacious misconception that someone can be “too old” for spine surgery when it’s truly needed. Many years ago, it was true that age played a significant factor in a person’s ability to tolerate and recover from surgery. Surgeries were once highly invasive, and recovery could take months. But over the decades, spinal surgery techniques have improved ...

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Stuttering is a speech disorder characterized by the involuntary disruption of verbal fluency. It is relatively common, with an estimated 55 million people affected by the condition worldwide. For some, the condition can be relatively mild and is barely noticeable unless one is feeling especially anxious. In more severe cases, the disorder can be virtually debilitating. Stuttering not only impairs communication, it can also have a ...

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Every time I visit my great grandmother, Tata, Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal floods my thoughts. Tata is 101 and developed severe dementia within the past two years. In 2019, she fell and fractured her hip. In the hospital, she recovered poorly. The physicians on her team offered hospice. My grandfather (her only son), declined fervently. Instead, he insisted on moving her back home to my aunt’s house, where my great ...

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Black Americans are dying at disproportionate rates from COVID-19. In Chicago, nearly 70% of deaths involve black individuals, who comprise only 30% of the population. At a closer look, these deaths were initially concentrated in just five neighborhoods on the city's South Side. In Louisiana, 70% of deaths involve Blacks, who represent only 32% of the state's population. As
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I knew it was the end of the world. I was about ten years old and returning home just as it was becoming dark. The sky began to be shot full of incredible colors coming from one direction. They became larger and brighter. Having been raised in a strict Catholic household, I had been well prepared for the end of the world – it was here! I raced home at ...

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“Have you ever been on a cruise?” Betty asks. It’s a strange question in the age of COVID-19, where thousands of people have been stranded on large ships over the past few months. I’m a wound physician who rounds at nursing homes, and my gloved hand holds her warm, wrinkled foot. I’m looking at a wound on her ankle that is almost healed. “I went on a cruise before, but it was ...

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It was the morning after Thanksgiving, 2012. My parents and I were sharing a suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, where we were camped out after the holiday dinner. We were not here because it was a family tradition or even because we wanted to notch it up this year. My family loved our paper plate style event, the air thick with the scent of turkey baking ...

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As the COVID-19 pandemic quickly moved across the nation this spring, state governments and health systems rushed to create or revise their crisis standards of care that contain medical rationing guidelines. In light of the crisis, how can we distribute health care resources equitably and without discrimination or bias when they are in short supply?  During a podcast interview, Kim ...

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Since the arrival of COVID-19 in America, most health care systems have adopted a policy delaying non-essential or non-urgent procedures and appointments in the hopes of preserving PPE and minimizing interpersonal exposure. Despite resultant furloughs, frustrations, and massive financial losses, the practice remains relatively non-controversial as the safest course for patients and staff. Numerous professional societies have subsequently released guidelines defining what kinds of conditions can and should be deferred. ...

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It was the morning of the last trauma shift during my surgery rotation. It was a seemingly normal early Sunday morning. However, when I arrived in the trauma charting room, there was no one to be found. After placing my coffee and protein bar down next to a computer, another medical student walked in, and he looked just as puzzled as I was at the sight of an empty room. “Where ...

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